The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has filed a labor complaint against Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) after he suggested that workers who join a strike against the nation’s three biggest carmakers should be fired.
UAW President Shawn Fain reported Scott to the National Labor Relations Board after the senator criticized the strike against the Big Three automakers at a Monday campaign event, praising former president Ronald Reagan’s response to federal air traffic controller strikes.
The form filed Thursday against Scott, who has condemned the UAW more forcefully than other Republican candidates, alleges he violated the rights of his own employees by threatening the right to strike. A day after the complaint, Scott doubled down on his position, accusing unions of not representing workers’ interests and tweeting that UAW “want to threaten me & shut me up. They don’t scare me.”
“I think Ronald Reagan gave us a great example when federal employees decided they were going to strike. He said, you strike, you’re fired. Simple concept to me,” Scott said at the Iowa event. “To the extent that we can use that once again, absolutely.”
Fain blasted the comments in a tweet as “just another example of how the employer class abuses the working class in America” and said that “employers willfully violate labor law with little to no repercussions.” The National Labor Relations Board investigates charges filed by unions, employees and employers, many of which are settled, withdrawn, or dismissed, according to its website.
UAW members, who are legally protected from being fired for striking, launched a historic, targeted strike a week ago to demand higher wages, more job protection and better benefits for temporary workers. It’s the first time the union has walked out at once against America’s three biggest automakers: General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.
It also comes among a wider resurgence in union activity around the country, including nurses and Hollywood script writers seeking better pay and job security.
The UAW’s action includes more than 12,000 workers, or about 8 percent of the union’s autoworkers, and affected one plant at each company, The Washington Post has reported.
But the stoppages are expected to expand on Friday after Fain, the UAW president, gave the companies a deadline, warning that more workers would join the industrial action without progress in negotiations.
Although Scott made a reference to Reagan, who fired thousands of striking air traffic controllers in 1981, UAW members are not federal employees.
Scott — who started his long-shot run for the 2024 presidential election in May — was also critical of President Biden for expressing support for the UAW strike. Biden has said that “record corporate profits, which they have, should be shared by record contracts for the UAW.”
The carmakers have offered a wage increase of around 20 percent, while the autoworkers union has sought a 36 percent hike over four years, as well as four-day workweek, defined-benefit pensions and company-financed health care in retirement.
While the companies say they are offering better wages and benefits than they have in years, union members say wages have not kept up with inflation and point to high executive pay.
The disagreement has prompted worries of a longer stalemate and potential impact on an industry that makes up 3 percent of gross domestic product.
Scott also said he objected to federal funding for union pensions. “The other things that are really important in that deal is that they want more money working fewer hours,” he said of the UAW strike earlier this week. “In America, that doesn’t make sense,” he added.