Autoworkers, Roll Out! | Crooked Media
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September 17, 2023
What A Day
Autoworkers, Roll Out!

In This Episode

  • The United Auto Workers Union is on strike at all three of Detroit’s major automakers — General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis. This is the first time in history it’s done that. Nearly 13,000 workers walked off the job at three auto plants across the country on Friday to fight for better wages and benefits as negotiations for a new labor contract continue.
  • And in headlines: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted of all the impeachment charges against him, tens of thousands of protesters marched in Manhattan to call on world leaders to end the usage of fossil fuels, and Drew Barrymore reversed the decision to bring back her talk show amid the Hollywood writers’ strike.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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For a transcript of this episode, please visit crooked.com/whataday

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Juanita Tolliver: It’s Monday, September 18th. I’m Juanita Tolliver.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What a Day, the pod that suggests if you’re looking for a new career crisis PR is where it’s at. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Because there’s so many famous people lately who’ve made decisions that got them in hot water. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Drew Barrymore, Ashton Kutcher, the guy who founded Rolling Stone, what y’all doing out there? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Pure mess. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. And everybody needs an Olivia Pope in their life. Okay. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh, yes. [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show. We’ll explain why all those people should have kept their mouths shut. Plus: 

 

[clip of fossil fuel protesters in New York singing] Hey hey ho ho fossil fuels have got to go. Hey hey ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Come on beat.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] That’s thousands of climate protesters yesterday in New York chanting for Biden to end fossil fuels. More on that coming up. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: You know, I love anything with a dance track in the background. [laughter] But first, the United Auto Workers Union is officially on strike. 

 

[clip of UAW workers on strike chanting] No justice, no jeeps. No justice, no jeeps.

 

Juanita Tolliver: That was the sound of UAW workers chanting on the picket lines this weekend after Detroit’s Big three automakers, General Motors, Ford and Stellantis failed to meet their demands for a new labor contract by last Thursday’s strike deadline. Nearly 13,000 workers from across the country walked off the job on Friday at three auto plants. A General Motors factory in Wentzville, Missouri, a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, and a Jeep plant in Toledo, Ohio. Take a listen to Torri Carter, a Ford worker who spoke to the news outlet, More Perfect Union on the picket lines Friday night. 

 

[clip of Torri Carter] Right now, I’m fired up. I’m ready to go to war. I’m ready to fight for what’s mine. We deserve it. I mean, we don’t get to see our families and it’s been really rough for us this year so. Right now, I’m ready. We make these cars. We can’t even afford them ourselves. So the greed and stuff has to stop now. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Period. And this is the first time that the UAW has struck all three of Detroit’s major automakers at the same time. So this is history in the making. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. That chant, no justice, no jeeps is really clever. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And like very appropriate. Look at y’all. Getting real creative out there. So the UAW actually represents over 145,000 workers nationwide. So why exactly is it just these 13,000 workers on strike? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. So the UAW is using what’s called a stand up strike method. Like all unions, the UAW has a strike fund to support its members who are out of work. They’ve got over $825 million dollars in the tank to keep people afloat. But there’s only so much to go around. Analysts say that the fund could be completely exhausted if the strike goes longer than 12 weeks. So the idea is to start small with these three plants to make sure the fund doesn’t get depleted too quickly, but big enough to be disruptive to the company’s operations. Other UAW workers will continue working under their expired contracts. If negotiations continue to stall, though, the strike could spread to more plants. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. So where do negotiations currently stand? I know both sides are back at the bargaining table, but do we have a sense of how things are exactly going? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: So the biggest point of contention between them continues to be compensation, as we’ve said on the show workers want a 36% increase in wages over the next four years, but none of the big three have offered them anywhere close to that. Stellantis proposed a wage increase of 21% to its workers, while Ford and General Motors made similar offers on Sunday. But the UAW rejected them all and made clear that the strike will continue. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And how exactly have the automakers responded to the strike thus far? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: The CEOs of the Big Three have been making their rounds on TV, saying the same old B.S. about why the workers are asking for too much. And just hours after the strike began, Ford and General Motors temporarily laid off thousands of non striking workers, claiming that the strike was forcing their hands. Although as of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, Stellantis is the only automaker that hasn’t announced any plans to let people go. But on Friday, Ford told 600 of its workers in Michigan not to come back to work. And General Motors said it plans to lay off 2000 workers in Kansas because of the strike. The union has obviously pushed back on this idea, calling it a squeeze move. UAW President Shawn Fain put out a statement firing back at CEOs on Saturday, saying, quote, “With their record profits, they don’t have to lay off a single employee. In fact, they could double every auto workers pay, not raise car prices and still rake in billions of dollars.” 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it’s always odd to me when they act like they’re hurting for money, so they have to lay people off when the reality is that they are still pulling in millions, billions of dollars every year unimpacted. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: 100%. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So now what about Biden’s response to all of this? I know he said that he supports the strike, but some striking UAW workers are skeptical, to say the least, of his allyship. Can you tell us more about the tension there? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Well, on Friday, the president held a press conference to respond to the UAW’s decision to strike. 

 

[clip of President Joe Biden] Auto companies have uh seen record profits, but those record profits have not been shared fairly, in my view, with those workers. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, no leads detected. The White House is also sending some of his aides to Detroit this week to help broker a deal between the UAW and the Big three. But the UAW recently declined to endorse Biden for reelection. Here’s what Fain told CBS on Sunday when asked why. 

 

[clip of Shawn Fain] Our endorsements are going to be earned. We’ve been very clear about that, no matter what politician it is. 

 

[clip of CBS interviewer of Shawn Fain] How does he earn it? 

 

[clip of Shawn Fain] We expect action, not words. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Mmm. Part of the reason why there’s tension between Biden and the UAW is the president’s plan to shift most cars to electric vehicles by 2032. Earlier this year, the Biden administration proposed rules that would require that two thirds of new cars sold in the U.S. have to be electric vehicles to limit air pollution. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Which all definitely sounds great. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But how exactly does that affect the demands and livelihoods of the auto workers? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: UAW workers are concerned that the shift could threaten their jobs. For one, electric cars require fewer people to assemble, and most electric vehicle jobs aren’t unionized, so workers won’t benefit from better pay and labor standards. President Biden has promised to make sure that battery plants and other electric vehicle workers will still have well-paying jobs and benefits. But like Fain basically said in this clip, the UAW will believe it when they see it. So the president is in a tough position right now between showing his commitment to clean energy and honoring his promise to be the, quote, “most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” And the UAW is watching to see how he balances the two. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And finally, the union has had several talks with the automakers since the strike began. Tell us where those stand. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Each day they’ve met with a different company. On Saturday, UAW met up with Ford and apparently had a productive conversation. Yesterday, it was GM. And today the union meets up with Stellantis. We’ll keep following the story as it develops. But that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has kept his job. On Saturday, the embattled Republican was acquitted of all the impeachment charges against him and was reinstated shortly afterwards. Paxton was accused of using his office to help a donor interfering with a federal investigation and retaliating against whistleblowers on his staff. He was tried for ten days in the Republican controlled state Senate, and all but two GOP senators voted to acquit. Paxton’s lawyers shouldn’t pack up their briefcases just yet, though He’s still in the middle of a years long case against him for securities fraud in Texas, and he’s been under FBI investigation since 2020. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: We’re also side eyeing another acquittal, this time in Michigan. On Friday, jurors in the state acquitted three men accused of being part of a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. Prosecutors tried to make the case that Eric Molitor and brothers William and Michael Null all tried to aid the scheme by going on a scouting mission to Whitmer’s vacation home. But according to the Associated Press, the defense attorney said the jury didn’t believe there was enough evidence to convict. This was the final trial for the 14 men charged in the kidnapping plot who were angry at Governor Whitmer for issuing lockdowns to protect the public during a historic pandemic. I mean, she was literally just trying to save people’s lives, but okay. Nine of those men, including the masterminds, were already convicted in state and federal courts and are currently serving prison time. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: In Manhattan yesterday:

 

[clip of fossil fuel protesters in New York chanting] Hey hey ho ho fossil fuels have got to go. Hey hey ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Tens of thousands of protesters marched the streets to call on world leaders to end the usage of fossil fuels. The protest was largely aimed at President Biden, who arrived in New York last night for his speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Climate protests cropped up internationally this weekend also, with marches in Germany, Senegal, South Korea, India and more. Burning fossil fuels, which include coal, oil and natural gas, remains to be the biggest cause of global warming. And while Biden has advanced the nation’s most ambitious climate policies, his administration has also continued to approve permits for new oil and gas drilling. The good news, California is doing something right. The state’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, filed a lawsuit on Friday against five of the world’s largest oil and gas companies for lying about climate change. The lawsuit alleges that these companies have known since the 1950s that burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. But instead of warning the public about its dangers, they downplayed the effects. Of course, they did. Likely to earn more money for themselves. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: All in the name of capitalism. I feel like we need a new jingle for that I guess. [laughter] Hurricane Lee is forecast to weaken over the next few days before moving out into the Atlantic Ocean. The storm hit the northeast on Saturday and knocked out power for tens of thousands of people. Strong winds brought down trees onto power lines and roads and at least one person died from its impact. But Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey lifted the state of emergency that she declared before the storm made landfall, noting the lack of significant damage. But further down south, Atlanta was hit with a different storm that brought unexpected flash floods on Thursday afternoon. About 3 hours worth of rain dumped on the city in just a matter of minutes. The water was so powerful that it picked up cars and even flooded dorms on Clark Atlanta University’s campus. Videos on social media show the water rising in the hallways of the residence halls as students waded through. But since Thursday, the university has received an outpouring of donations, including from other HBCU’s, for students who had to be relocated from the floods. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Jann Wenner, the co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, has been removed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s board after a widely criticized interview he did with The New York Times published on Friday. Wenner was speaking about his upcoming book, The Masters, and when he was asked about his decision to not include interviews with women or Black artists. His answer was that they were not, quote, “articulate” enough to be included. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Eew. 

 

[clip of Jann Wenner] In so far as the women, I mean, there were just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Excuse me. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: He said it confidently too. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: With his whole chest. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. With his whole chest. The nearly 400 page book features interviews with seven white male rock and roll icons. And in other news of white man flops, Ashton Kutcher has resigned as chairman of the board of the anti-child sex abuse organization that he co-founded with his then wife, Demi Moore, in 2009. This comes after outrage that he and his now wife, Mila Kunis, wrote leniency letters for their former that 70’s show costar Danny Masterson. He was sentenced earlier this month to 30 years in prison for raping two women. Kunis served as an observer on the board and is also stepping down. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And finally, you know, just to put the cherry on top of all of this, Drew Barrymore yesterday reversed the decision to bring back her talk show in the middle of the Hollywood writer’s strike. She was under heavy fire for recording new episodes last week without her three unionized writers. Before she announced the latest move on Instagram last Friday, she initially tried to defend making new episodes in a now deleted, tear filled video she recorded at home. 

 

[clip of Drew Barrymore] I deeply apologize to writers. I deeply apologize to unions. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Hmm. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Ma’am. [laughter] Ma’am. [laughter] By the way, WAD squad. If you’ve seen the video, we want to know, does she wallpaper her ceiling like, is that [laugh] something you people are doing these days? [laughter] The first of those newly recorded episodes was supposed to air today, but Barrymore said she’ll now wait until the strike is resolved before her talk show starts a new season. Her backtrack prompted another show, CBS’s The Talk, to put a pause on its season premiere today as well. However, there are several other talk shows, such as The View and Real Time with Bill Maher that’ll still go on without their unionized writers. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s so interesting because just a couple of months ago, Drew Barrymore was, you know, lauded for stepping away from that awards show because of the writers strike. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh! 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And then now she wanted to make it seem like she was doing something good by continuing with her show. And here she is now with her tail tucked between her legs again. What were you thinking, Drew? What were you thinking girl? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Our friend Drew wasn’t thinking, though. That’s the point, right? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That’s the problem. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: No thought was given, and I hope more thought is given in the future. But those are the headlines. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Go into crisis PR and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just wondering if that was wallpaper on Drew’s ceiling like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

[spoken together] And protests are so hot right now. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Oh, it’s given Paris Hilton. That’s hot. Hold on I got to do one, more vocal fry hold on. [laughter]  That’s hot. [laughter]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Shout out to the throwback. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I know right. [laughing]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Shout out to Paris Hilton. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: [laughter] She is thriving today. That’s all that matters. [laughter] [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]

 

[AD BREAK]