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Biden’s top economic advisor urges Detroit automakers and UAW to avoid a strike

Car mechanic with protective mask welding car. Service station.
Adobe Stock
Car mechanic with protective mask welding car. Service station.

The Biden administration’s top economic adviser is echoing the president’s call for automakers and the United Auto Workers union to reach a new contract that’s fair to all parties involved.

President Biden reportedly understands both sides of the negotiations, playing a lead role when the Obama administration helped bail out General Motors and Chrysler in 2009.

The head of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, Jared Bernstein, says Biden wants automakers in a strong position. But Bernstein says workers deserve a slice of the profits — and Biden’s push for electric vehicles includes incentives for automakers to use union members to build them.

“Even if it does take fewer workers to build an EV — if we’re building more EVs here, that can make up the difference,” Bernstein says.

UAW officials want Detroit’s Big 3 to provide assurances EV plants and facilities will not leave union workers behind.

Bernstein calls Biden the most “pro-union” U.S. president in recent history.

“So he has long understood the importance of both sides of that equation. Robust businesses that are profitable, but also the importance of worker bargaining power so that profitability gets shared,” states Bernstein. “If you’re helping to bake the pie you oughta get a fair slice.”

The traditionally Democratic-leaning UAW has yet to endorse Biden or anyone else for president — in part because they fear his push for electric vehicles could cost union jobs.

Quinn Klinefelter is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, anchoring midday newscasts and preparing reports for WDET, NPR and the BBC. Klinefelter joined WDET in 1998 after earning a M.A. from the nation’s top-ranked journalism school, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and working as a sports correspondent for BBC Radio 4 and as a talk show host, anchor and reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio.