Press Releases

What lawmakers can learn from the GM-UAW strike
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
September 24, 2019
Detroit Free Press
 
Last week, 49,000 UAW members walked off General Motors’ factory floors and warehouses in the company’s first strike in 12 years. The issues in contention — negotiations over wages, benefits and factory locations — are deeply important.
 
I’m not a participant on either side of the strike, nor am I in a position to mediate who is right or wrong on each item being negotiated. I am, however, a federal policymaker, and know that when I consider the issues facing the United States, there is a need to recognize our national obligations to one another and to the country as Americans.
 
For UAW members and the overwhelming majority of workers, understanding this obligation is straightforward. These workers aren’t line items on a ledger, but essential contributors to GM’s extraordinary success. Their livelihoods, their families’ future, and the vitality of their communities rely on the ability of American companies to provide dignified work.
 
For companies like GM, national obligation is a more complicated affair.
 

 
We see this difference play out in many of today’s political battles. A new consensus is emerging that says America’s companies should act in America’s national interest, as opposed to a global interest or the interests of their shareholders only.
 

 
The federal government cannot instill American patriotism into domestic companies by decree. It can, however, realign the incentive structures to make companies — management and labor both — more productive in the United States, so they continue to make money and provide stable work here in America.
 

 
Increasing investment in America is central to repairing an economy that works for American families. For the union members currently on strike, more domestic investment means more jobs, higher wages, and greater economic security. For GM, extending the company’s history of innovation will depend on its investment in American productive capacity.
 
To empower industry, lawmakers should first look at full-expensing: how to expand and make permanent the immediate write-off for any business investment in machinery, structures, and land. Doing so would help businesses ensure the long-term availability of jobs for workers.
 
We should also reduce existing tax code incentives for companies to buy back their own shares. Federal policy should not promote financial engineering for short-term gains over long-term investment in capital development — or over the workers who turn that national capacity into innovation and production.
 

 
I hope the UAW and GM swiftly reach a deal. Every day they don’t, both working families and the national corporate icon that employs them suffer the cost. As the UAW and GM negotiate their shared future, American legislators must now recognize our own responsibility to secure a future of national strength and dignified work for all of us.
 
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