The UAW Strike Continues

Happy Tuesday! Investors in lab-grown meat companies are probably breathing a big sigh of relief after a trio of Islamic scholars and a Jewish kosher certification authority cleared cultivated meats as Halal and Kosher, respectively. Not everyday you can add about 2 billion people to your potential customer base essentially overnight.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Five American citizens held prisoner in Iran—several of whom were behind bars for more than five years—were freed yesterday and, as of last night, making their way back to the United States by way of Qatar. The prisoner release was part of a deal Iran brokered with the Biden administration in exchange for the release of five Iranians detained for sanctions violations and the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian oil money.
  • The wreckage of an F-35 jet lost on Sunday evening after the pilot flying the aircraft made an emergency bailout was located last night in Williamsburg County, 100 miles north of Charleston, South Carolina, according to military officials. It’s unclear what led to the incident, but the Marine Corps is suspending all aviation unit flights for two days— to “discuss aviation safety matters and best practices”—in response to the crash and other mishaps in recent weeks.
  • Former President Donald Trump will reportedly skip next Wednesday’s Republican primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, opting instead to give a primetime speech to a group of blue-collar, union workers in Detroit. 
  • Rep. Jennifer Wexton—a Democrat from Virginia—announced yesterday that she will not seek reelection for a fourth term after receiving a diagnosis of a rare neurological disorder called progressive supranuclear palsy. Wexton revealed in April that she had Parkinson’s disease but intended to serve “for many years to come.” In intervening months, the 55-year-old didn’t respond well to treatment, leading to the updated diagnosis. Wexton’s seat is in a competitive district that prior to her first election in 2018 was in Republican hands for 40 years.*
  • Gil Cisneros—a former one-term Democratic congressman from California—said yesterday he is running in California’s 31st Congressional District to replace Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano, who is retiring at the end of her current term. Cisneros was first elected in 2018, but lost his reelection fight in 2020 to a Republican challenger and later became a Biden administration Defense Department appointee charged with implementing the Pentagon’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. 

Biden’s Coalition Under Pressure 

The first day of the UAW strike in Detroit, Michigan, on September 15, 2023. (Photo by MATTHEW HATCHER/AFP via Getty Images)
The first day of the UAW strike in Detroit, Michigan, on September 15, 2023. (Photo by MATTHEW HATCHER/AFP via Getty Images)

As the clock struck midnight last Thursday night, United Auto Workers (UAW) began their targeted “stand up” strikes against the “Big Three” American automobile manufacturers—Stellantis (formerly Chrysler), Ford, and General Motors—marking the first time the union has gone on strike at all three companies at once.

Over the weekend, a number of Democratic elected officials—mostly from the Midwest and U.S. manufacturing strongholds—made pilgrimages to picket lines to prove their labor bona fides. Sens. Gary Peters of Michigan, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio—among plenty of other pols—gripped and grinned in front of the UAW locals and striking plants, posing in union-made cars and shouting, “No justice, no Jeeps!” along with union members. “In the opening hours of the #StandUpStrike, ⁦@SenSherrodBrown⁩ stands with ⁦@UAW⁩ in Toledo,” the Ohio branch of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the country, posted on X on Saturday, along with a picture of Brown surrounded by picketers. “Because of course he does.” 

That certainty from the AFL-CIO—and the mobilization by Democratic politicians—belies a much more complicated picture of a serious strike that is testing the strength of President Joe Biden’s coalition. At the heart of the negotiations with the automakers are UAW’s concerns about the future of auto manufacturing as car companies face pressure from the Biden administration to transition to electric vehicles (EVs), which labor activists fear may come at the cost of union jobs. Though the strikes may result in a slower rollout of EVs—or in EVs and batteries being produced in non-union factories in right-to-work states—environmental organizations who have criticized Biden for not being aggressive enough in combating climate change are nonetheless expressing solidarity with the strikers. 

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