The United Auto Workers union has filed a labor complaint against Republican senator and 2024 GOP candidate Tim Scott over inflammatory comments concerning ongoing labor strikes against Detroit-Three automakers.
During a campaign rally earlier this week, Scott shared his vision for how governments and automakers should address the United Auto Workers strike. “I think Ronald Reagan gave us a great example when federal employees decided they were going to strike,” he commented. “He said, you strike, you’re fired. Simple concept to me to the extent that we can use that once again.”
The senator’s remarks reference the 1981 air traffic controller strike. Although the National Labor Relations Act protects the right of private-sector workers to organize against their employers, these protections do not extend to federal employees, allowing the Reagan Administration to fire more than 11,000 striking ATCs employed by the government. Scott also shared criticism of the United Auto Workers union’s demands. “They want more benefits working fewer days…that doesn’t make sense,” he continued. “That’s not common sense.”
According to The Intercept, which broke the story Thursday evening, the union retaliated by accusing the senator of violating the rights of his campaign’s employees, arguing that the statements could intimidate Scott’s own staff. In its report, The Intercept cited Harvard professor of labor law Benjamin Sachs, who stated, “A statement as direct as ‘if you strike, you’re fired’ is textbook unfair labor practice language because workers can’t be fired for striking.” The United Auto Workers union will soon enter its second week of strikes and today announced additional employee walkouts at 38 parts distribution centers operated by General Motors and Stellantis.
The UAW has had encounters with other GOP candidates since strikes began. Former president Donald Trump recently criticized United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain for the union’s ambitious demands on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Earlier this year, Fain warned members in a letter that a second Trump presidency “would be a disaster.”