Sen. Bernie Sanders at a United Auto Workers rally
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at a United Auto Workers rally on September 15, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan.
(Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Sanders, Brown Lead​ Resolution in Solidarity With Striking UAW Workers

"The time has come for the United States Senate to go on record in support of UAW workers and against corporate greed," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Just over a month after the United Auto Workers members at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis walked out to demand improvements in pay, benefits, and labor conditions, U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown on Wednesday introduced a resolution expressing official solidarity with the strikers.

The three-page Senate resolution explains that while executives get "exorbitant" compensation packages, many UAW members, with an average starting wage of just $17 an hour, "cannot afford to buy the cars they make and struggle to afford the basic necessities of life, including groceries, housing, childcare, and prescription drugs."

"These companies need to bargain in good faith and agree to a fair contract that honors the dignity of work."

Echoing his previous comments on the strike, Sanders (I-Vt.) stressed that "the fight the UAW is waging has everything to do with the outrageous level of corporate greed and arrogance on the part of senior executives in the automobile industry and their backers on Wall Street."

"At a time when the Big Three automakers have made $250 billion in profits over the past decade, it is absolutely unacceptable that wages for the average autoworker have gone down by 30% in the past 20 years after adjusting for inflation," the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee chair continued.

"If these companies could afford to spend $9 billion on stock buybacks and dividends last year, they can afford to sign a contract that treats their workers with the respect and the dignity that they deserve. Enough is enough," he added. "The time has come for the United States Senate to go on record in support of UAW workers and against corporate greed. That is what this resolution is all about."

The resolution states that the Senate:
  • Stands with the United Auto Workers in their fight against corporate greed;
  • Supports every worker's fundamental right to organize and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions; and
  • Calls on the Big Three automakers—General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford—to negotiate in good faith and offer their workers a fair contract.

Along with Sanders and Brown (D-Ohio), the resolution is backed by another 31 Democrats and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

"We stand in solidarity with autoworkers in Ohio and around the country as they demand the Big Three automakers respect the work they do to make these companies successful," said Brown. "Any union family knows that a strike is always a last resort—autoworkers want to be on the job, not on the picket line."

"UAW workers made sacrifices to save the American auto industry," he added. "Now the Big Three are making record profits—all workers are asking for is their fair share. These companies need to bargain in good faith and agree to a fair contract that honors the dignity of work."

The UAW's ongoing "Stand Up Strike" did not begin with all of the nearly 150,000 affected workers walking out at once; instead, certain locals have been called on to do so, and the union has increased the number throughout talks. There are now more than 34,000 members on strike.

UAW president Shawn Fain confirmed last week that the union would no longer wait until the end of each workweek to announce any strike expansions, saying that "we're entering a new phase of this fight and it demands a new approach."

"We're not waiting until Fridays anymore," he said on a livestreamed address. "Now there's only one rule—pony up."

Speaking Monday at the Ford Rouge Complex outside Detroit, executive chair Bill Ford—the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford—urged UAW members to "end to this acrimonious round of talks," according toCNBC. He said: "Choosing the right path is not just about Ford's future and our ability to compete. This is about the future of the American automobile industry."

In response, Fain declared that "Bill Ford knows exactly how to settle this strike. Instead of threatening to close the Rouge, he should call up [Ford CEO] Jim Farley, tell him to stop playing games and get a deal done, or we'll close the Rouge for him."

"It's not the UAW and Ford against foreign automakers," the union leader said. "It's autoworkers everywhere against corporate greed. If Ford wants to be the all-American auto company, they can pay all-American wages and benefits. Workers at Tesla, Toyota, Honda, and others are not the enemy—they're the UAW members of the future."

Polling last month showed that a majority of U.S. voters across the political spectrum support the UAW strike. Democratic President Joe Biden joined striking workers on a picket line in late September, a historic first for a sitting U.S. president.

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