Despite some major political differences, the United Auto Workers union is fully prepared to support President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policies.
Dennis Williams, president of the United Auto Workers, said, “I have said that as long as when he is working in the best interest of working men and women then we will support him. I think it’s time to look at this.”
Williams comment came on the heels of a Presidential tweet that said autoworkers would like what was coming and promptly threatened to levy a 25% tariff on imported vehicles and started an investigation on whether importing vehicles threatened national security.
“I welcome the fact that they’re investigating. But I’m cautious,” he said. “We do think American workers have been handed the short stick for a long time on trade,” added Williams, who said the support for the President on trade doesn’t translate into support for Republican Party in general.
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“It was Republican votes in Congress and Republican votes in the Senate that passed NAFTA,” noted Williams, noting the union still had differences with GOP on a number of issues such as the environment, immigration and education.
The UAW did not endorse Trump for President instead throwing its support behind Hillary Clinton.
Williams also said he and other union leaders met twice with Trump and trade representative Robert Lighthizer, who is heading up the NAFTA negotiations, on issues such as rules of origin and Mexican labor rights.
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“People always complain about the competition with Mexico. Companies from have around the world have taken advantage of the low wages and government-controlled unions,” he said. “We don’t agree with the companies when it comes to trade and tariffs. They have different interests.”
“I do think the United States lacks an industrial policy. From our country’s standpoint, I think it’s wrong not to protect our manufacturing,” Williams said.
On another issue, Williams disclosed that the UAW had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board about a tweet by Elon Musk, which suggested that workers could lose their stock options if they supported the UAW.
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The UAW has been mounting an organizing campaign for workers at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, for the past two years. Williams is coming to the end of his tenure as UAW president. His successor, who will be installed next month, will decide on when the union will actually press for an election to decide the representation question at Tesla.