News & Commentary

September 19, 2023

Sunah Chang

Sunah Chang is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News and Commentary: Unifor continues negotiations with Ford’s operations in Canada while the United Auto Workers prepare for more strikes, Trump announces a rally in Detroit next week with union workers, and talk shows backtrack on plans to return to air without writers after receiving public backlash.

Unifor, the Canadian union representing autoworkers, extended negotiations with Ford Canada for a 24-hour period, putting a potential strike of Canadian autoworkers on hold. The contract between Unifor and Ford was set to expire at midnight, but the union issued a statement earlier this morning announcing that it “received a substantive offer from the employer minutes before the deadline and bargaining is continuing throughout the night.” The union also noted that union members should “continue to maintain strike readiness.” If Unifor and Ford do not reach an agreement in 24 hours, over 5,000 Canadian autoworkers who work at Ford’s facilities in Canada will go on strike. They will join the nearly 13,000 members of the United Auto Workers on strike, who are planning to ramp up pressure against the Big Three. Last night, the UAW announced that the union would add more plants to its strike by this Friday if no “serious progress” occurred during negotiations. 

Donald Trump plans to skip the second Republican presidential debate next week and will instead hold a rally in Detroit to a group union workers, including automobile workers. The Trump campaign has also produced a radio ad specifically catered to union workers that will begin its broadcast in Detroit and Toledo, Ohio today. These moves indicate a growing effort by Trump to align himself with union members despite the fact that Trump has not directly supported the wage demands of the striking workers and has criticized the UAW’s leadership. In response to Trump’s upcoming Detroit visit, the UAW’s president Shawn Fain has condemned Trump’s attempts to win union support, stating, “every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers.” 

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress and in the Michigan state legislature have urged President Biden to visit the UAW picket line to demonstrate his solidarity with the union. While President Biden has touted himself as “the most pro-union president” and has explicitly backed the autoworkers’ strike, the union has held off from endorsing President Biden. 

Turning to Hollywood, multiple talk shows have reversed plans to return to air after receiving public blowback from the Writers Guild of America and its supporters. Drew Barrymore announced over the weekend that she will postpone bringing back her daytime talk show while strikes continue. Similarly, Bill Maher announced yesterday that he would delay the return of his talk show “Real Time.” “The Talk” and “The Jennifer Hudson Show” have also followed suit—postponing their premiere dates in light of the ongoing Hollywood strikes. All these shows intended to return to air without any writers, which drew sharp criticisms from the WGA and the wider public. The public responses to these talk shows signal a shift from Hollywood’s landscape during the strikes of 2007-8, when many talk shows returned to air with significantly less controversy. 

In the meantime, the WGA has announced that the union will be resuming talks with studios tomorrow.

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