(Washington Examiner) Former President Donald Trump and other 2024 Republican presidential candidates are taking different approaches to labor unions during a major strike, with the field mostly unified in attributing blame to President Joe Biden‘s economic and energy policies.
Last week, the United Auto Workers began a targeted strike with 13,000 members of the Big Three automakers General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis in Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.
Trump is using the strike as an opportunity to court autoworkers in the Midwest, placing blame on the Biden administration for the current ordeal. On Sept. 27, the former president will reportedly skip the second Republican debate in favor of speaking to current and former UAW members in Detroit, Michigan.
Ahead of the strike, Trump claimed in a statement, “No president has ever fought harder for autoworkers than President Trump. Time after time, I rescued the U.S. auto industry from certain destruction: Withdrawing from TPP, overhauling the Korea deal to restore the protective tariff on pickup trucks, canceling Obama’s job-killing CAFE rules, and replacing NAFTA with the USMCA while insisting on unprecedented protections for American labor, and American autoworkers in particular.”
He added that Biden “sold you out to appease the environmental extremists in his party. Do not surrender! Stand strong against Biden’s vicious attack on American labor and American autoworkers.” Promising “more jobs, higher wages, and soaring pensions,” he encouraged union members to vote for him and request their leaders to endorse him.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), notably from a right-to-work state, was more critical of the unions and their close ties to Democrats. According to the senator, “Certainly [Biden] has been leased by the unions.” He reminded voters during a campaign event of Biden’s hallmark American Rescue Plan in 2021. Scott noted, “It had $86 billion, I believe, for union pensions.”
As Scott pointed out the measure did offer $86 billion in grants that struggling multi-employer pension plans could apply for in order to ensure that union workers received their benefits.
“They promise too much, deliver too little, and the taxpayers pick up the tab,” he said of deals made between unions and employers.
The South Carolina Republican promised “to stop reshoring pension plans that are failing in the private sector because the deal makers make unrealistic promises.”
When a voter asked Scott if he would insert himself in labor talks as president in any capacity, he began by recalling that “Ronald Reagan gave us a great example when federal employees decided they were gonna strike. He said you strike, you’re fired.”
The candidate was referring to former President Ronald Reagan’s choice to fire more than 11,000 federal workers in 1981 who did not return to work when ordered to. Prior to this, roughly 13,000 air traffic controllers had chosen to walk out after discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration fell apart.
“Simple concept to me to the extent that we could use that once again,” Scott said, discussing a potential federal strike. “Absolutely.”