South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott took a tougher stance on striking auto workers Monday than many of his fellow Republican presidential candidates. He said it didn’t make sense for workers to want higher wages for shorter work weeks and noted approvingly that President Ronald Reagan had laid off federal workers. before hitting.
“I think Ronald Reagan gave us a great example when federal workers decided they were going to strike,” Scott said at a campaign event in Iowa, in response to a voter who had asked if he would “insert” himself into the United Auto Workers. speaks as president. “He said, ‘If you hit, you’re fired.’ For me, a simple concept, as long as we can use it again.”
He went on to criticize federal funding for private sector union pension plans, saying in reference to the UAW dispute, “The other things that are really important in that deal is that they want more money working fewer hours. They want more benefits and fewer days to work.”
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In “America that makes no sense,” he said. “That’s not common sense.”
Members of the United Auto Workers union went on strike on Friday against three car manufacturers: General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. The workers are demanding pay increases of up to 40% — which would match pay increases for their companies’ executives over the past decade — and four-day workweeks, along with cost-of-living adjustments and a restoration of previously forfeited pensions.
Despite Scott’s approving reference to Reagan, who fired thousands of striking air traffic controllers in 1981, United Auto Workers members are not federal employees and cannot be fired by the president. Federal labor law also protects them from being fired by their employer for striking.
Scott’s campaign emphasized the rest of his response — his rejection of taxpayer funding for any deal — and said the Reagan portion had referred to federal employees, not the UAW. But it declined to comment officially on why he had brought up Reagan’s firing of federal employees if it had no relevance to the UAW dispute.
“Sen. Scott has made it clear repeatedly, at that event and others, that Joe Biden should not leave taxpayers on the hook for a labor deal,” campaign spokesman Matt Gorman said.
Scott’s criticism of workers’ demands set him apart from other Republican candidates who have commented on the UAW strike, even though not all of them have been influential. While most other candidates have been critical of unions in general, with particular vitriol for teachers Unions have generally expressed sympathy with the economic concerns of autoworkers.
Former President Donald Trump is actively courting striking workers while denouncing their leaders; he has portrayed the workers as victims of the Biden administration’s rules aimed at ensuring that two-thirds of new passenger cars sold in the United States are electric by 2032.
Three other candidates, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, former Vice President Mike Pence and Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota, have also emphasized electric vehicles by expressing sympathy, directly or indirectly, for workers. Pence has also emphasized inflation, but denied that the growing gap between employee and manager salaries is a factor — although employees themselves have cited this.
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