United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), alleging violations of federal labor law.
Mr. Fain's complaint centers on remarks made by Mr. Scott concerning striking workers, which the union boss argues encroached upon workers' rights.
The dispute comes after Mr. Scott, a contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, was questioned about the ongoing UAW strike during a campaign event in Iowa earlier this week.
Mr. Scott commended former President Ronald Reagan's actions in 1981 when he terminated thousands of federal employees who had initiated a strike.
“I think Ronald Reagan gave us a great example when federal employees decided they were going to strike,” he said. “He said, you strike, you're fired. Simple concept to me to the extent that we can use that once again.”
The union boss denounced Mr. Scott's comments on Thursday.
Mr. Fain's official complaint asserts that Mr. Scott's comments ran afoul of federal labor law when he acts as an employer for his campaign, rather than in his role as a senator.
The National Labor Relations Act permits anyone to file a charge against an employer or a labor organization if they believe that workers' rights have been violated.
“On Monday, September 18, 2023, Tim Scott threatened employees with adverse consequences if they engage in protected, concerted activity by publicly responding to questions about striking workers as follows: 'You strike, you're fired.'”
The complaint was first reported by The Intercept.
The UAW strike launched on Sept. 15, with thousands of UAW workers simultaneously walking off the job at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler).
This unprecedented move marks the first time in history that the UAW has simultaneously targeted all of the "Big Three" Detroit automakers.
The UAW's principal demands include higher wages, enhanced benefits, and specific job security measures, particularly in light of automakers' transition to electric vehicles. The strike has disrupted production at several major automotive plants and is being closely monitored by both labor advocates and industry stakeholders.
If negotiations do not advance, strikes are anticipated to grow on Friday as Mr. Fain has warned that additional workers will join the picket lines.
“Our members have been clear about their demands, and we know the companies can afford to make things right. Record profits mean record contracts,” Mr. Fain said Tuesday. “We’ve been available 24/7 to bargain a deal that recognizes our members’ sacrifices and contributions to these record profits.”
The union's strategy involves staging surprise strikes at a few local facilities to keep the companies guessing and conserve strike funds.
These strikes have the backing of the Biden administration, but there's debate about whether President Joe Biden, who touted his pro-union stance during his campaign, should personally address the striking workers after expressing support for the strikes last week.
'They Don't Scare Me'Mr. Scott responded to the UAW's complaint in a strongly worded statement to The Epoch Times.
“The UAW is one of the most corrupt and scandal-plagued unions in America,” Mr. Scott said. “They are showing their true colors once again, and autoworkers and taxpayers will be left holding the bag together. They want to threaten me and shut me up. They don’t scare me."
"I will truly fight for American workers and jobs, promote the dignity of work, and end the Biden retreat from the values that make our nation exceptional,” he continued.
Mr. Scott took aim at the Biden administration as well, saying the president and labor bosses are undermining autoworkers.
"American workers continue to witness how a weak president leads to all sorts of chaos at home and abroad,” he said. “Joe Biden and Big Labor bosses are undermining the dignity of work and setting autoworkers up for failure. They’re playing politics with people’s lives."
He went on to express his concerns about President Biden's electric vehicle mandates, which have been at the forefront of concerns amid the negotiations.
"Biden’s electric vehicle mandates are bad for workers,” Mr. Scott said. “Whenever Democrats have to pick between elite environmentalists and American workers, they side against working people."
Mr. Scott also criticized “Big Labor's” proposals, saying their wish list for a “massive pay raise for a French-style work week would make the American auto industry less competitive, encourage outsourcing, and leave workers even more vulnerable to automation.”
“It would put the industry on a path to more taxpayer bailouts or bankruptcy while the Big Labor bosses line their pockets,” he added.