(Bloomberg) -- The United Auto Workers and Detroit’s Big Three can all notch wins in contract negotiations, with workers securing strong raises and job protections while the carmakers keep thriving, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.
President Joe Biden will travel to Michigan on Tuesday to support striking UAW members. Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Buttigieg said Biden is “proud to be the most unapologetically pro-worker, pro-union president we’ve had.”
“It’s also the case these auto companies can thrive in a win-win deal that does what the president has called for, which is to say that record profits should lead to record pay and record benefits for the workers who are creating all that value,” he said.
General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV have logged four years of record profits and Ford Motor Co.’s profits have been strong. The union maintains the companies can afford to meet its demands for raises of as much as 40%, pointing to rising CEO pay packages and multibillion-dollar stock buybacks that reward shareholders.
Ford CEO Jim Farley has said the wage demand would “put us out of business.”
Buttigieg stopped short of putting the administration’s weight behind the 40% pay demand.
“The president and this administration, we are not at the bargaining table,” he said “But we are with workers.”
Read more: What’s at Stake as US Autoworkers’ Strike Drags On: QuickTake
More than a week after the strike began, the two sides remain far apart on key issues such as pay, benefits and terms.
UAW President Shawn Fain said Friday the union would expand its labor action against GM and Stellantis, the maker of the Jeep and Chrysler brands, to 38 more facilities. It spared Ford from additional walkouts after union leaders said they clinched more concessions from the company.
Read more: Biden to Visit Auto Workers in Michigan as UAW Widens Strike
The strike poses political dilemma for Biden, who’s counting on labor support across crucial Rust Belt swing states to help propel him to reelection. The UAW endorsed Biden in 2020 but hasn’t committed for 2024.
Union leaders invited Biden last week to join the picket line. He’ll visit a day before former President Donald Trump travels to Detroit to court union members.
“The American auto sector will benefit in the long run from the deal that moves this country forward,” Buttigieg said on ABC’s This Week.
(Adds quote to last paragraph. A previous version corrected the name of an automaker.)
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