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Senator Bernie Sanders addressed striking United Auto Workers (UAW) employees in Detroit, Michigan on Friday, calling out automakers CEOs to “end their greed.”
The far-left senator’s remarks came on Friday afternoon during the first day of the union’s “Stand Up” strikes against General Motors, Stellantis and Ford.
“The fight that you are waging here is not only about decent wages, decent benefits and decent working conditions in the automobile industry,” Sander’s said. “No. The fight you are waging is a fight against the outrageous level of corporate greed and arrogance that we are seeing on the part of CEOs who think they have a right to have it all and could [not] care less about the needs of their workers.”
Sanders continued to torch General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares and Ford CEO Jim Farley saying that they, “make out like bandits.”
“We refuse to live in an oligarchy,” Sanders said. “We refuse to accept a society in which so few have so much and so many have so little.”
Sanders ended his speech with remarks for automakers’ leadership calling on them to negotiate a “fair” contract.
“I would like to say a word to the CEOs of General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. Understand, CEOs, the enormous financial sacrifices your workers have made over the years,” he said.
“It is time for you to end your greed,” Sanders continued. “It is time for you to treat your employees with the respect and dignity they deserve. It is time to sit down and negotiate a fair contract.”
Sanders went on to support UAW’s push for a four-day workweek, arguing that the introduction of artificial intelligence will soon boost the productivity of individual workers.
“I happen to believe that, as a nation, we should begin a serious discussion – and the UAW is doing that – about substantially lowering the workweek. People in America are stressed out for a dozen different reasons,” Sanders said. “And that’s one of the reasons why life expectancy in our country is actually in decline. People are overwhelmed. They got to take care of their kids. They got to worry about health care. They got to worry about housing. They’re worried.”
“It seems to me that, if new technology is going to make us a more productive society, the benefits should go to the workers,” he said.
The main point of contention between the two sides is higher pay, with Fain saying the union is seeking a more than 40% general pay raise for rank-and-file members over four years.
Full-time assembly plant workers at Ford and GM earn $32.32 an hour, while part-timers currently make about $17 an hour. Full-time employees at Stellantis earn $31.77 an hour, and part-time workers earn close to $16 an hour.
The union has also been pushing for making all temporary workers at the automakers permanent, cost-of-living adjustments, increases in pension benefits for current retirees and restoring pensions for new hires, among other benefits.
After not reaching an agreement on Thursday night, the workers began striking at a GM plant in Wentzville, Missouri; a Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio; and a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan. Plants that were not called upon to strike will work without a contract, UAW President Shawn Fain said.
FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.