Biden can’t do much to prevent an auto strike
President Joe Biden may hope the United Auto Workers union will not strike the nation’s three unionized automakers. At the moment, he has little choice but to hope.
Biden does not have the legal authority to stop a strike if a freight railroad or airline threatens to strike. Different labor laws give the president the authority to order both sides to continue working. It is only through public pressure that he can make a difference.
Even with his reputation as a pro-union leader, he has relatively little influence with the union, especially given its criticism of the administration’s support of EVs, which the union sees as detrimental to its members’ jobs.
He also has limited ability to pressure automakers, given their desire to compete with nonunion automakers like Tesla and foreign automakers.
General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, which makes Jeep, Ram, Dodge, and Chrysler vehicles for the US market, employ 145,000 UAW members. Strikes against any companies that do not have a tentative labor deal in place by September 15 have been overwhelmingly approved by union rank-and-file.
UPS, the ports along the West Coast, and the four major freight railroads in the country have all avoided potential strikes that could have crippled the economy.