Dangerous Territory: UAW President Takes Stand On Campus Protests

By Victor Smiroff | Tuesday, 07 May 2024 10:30 AM
Views 4.8K
Image Credit : Townhall Media

In an unexpected turn of events, Shawn Fain, the President of the United Auto Workers (UAW), has decided to wade into the ongoing debate and protests at various college campuses across the United States.

These protests are primarily in support of the individuals from Gaza who took hostages on October 7th, sparking a conflict in the Middle East that continues to this day.

In a recent editorial, Fain expressed his views on the anti-Israel campus protests and the police response to them. He took to X (formerly Twitter) to state that his union opposes "the mass arrest or intimidation of those exercising their right to protest, strike, or speak out against injustice." While this statement might seem commendable in isolation, in the context of the protests, it appears to be a defense of mass trespassing and harassment of Jewish students at institutions like Columbia and UCLA.

Fain made his stance clear when he condemned Israel's campaign to eliminate Hamas from Gaza, describing it as "wrong." He revealed that the UAW has been advocating for a ceasefire for the past six months, implying that the union wished to halt Israel's self-defense war shortly after Hamas launched a surprise attack, killing 1,200 Israelis and mutilating women.

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Fain's views might come as a shock to workers at Volkswagen in Tennessee who recently chose to unionize, or Mercedes workers in Alabama who will decide whether to join the UAW by May 17. The union is keen to organize workers at rapidly expanding southern plants, promising higher wages. However, its pitch conspicuously lacks solidarity with Hamas and Ivy League delinquents, even though worker dues will support Fain's ideological causes.

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Fain took to X to express his views, stating, "The UAW will never support the mass arrest or intimidation of those exercising their right to protest, strike, or speak out against injustice." He also called for the release of arrested students and employees, urging those who cannot handle the outcry to stop supporting the war.

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Fain's role as the UAW president is to ensure the satisfaction of workers, primarily those employed at auto plants. However, it is unclear how his members, who work tirelessly to send their children to college, benefit from his stance. Their children's studies are being disrupted, and in some cases, their lives are being endangered. This position seems counterproductive for the union.

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The southern plants that the UAW hopes to bring into its fold might not be thrilled about the possibility of their resources (dues) being used to support the destruction of private property and, in some instances, outright violence.

The issue of "peaceful protests" by supporters of Hamas has been addressed by Jeff Charles, a colleague. He revealed that the "peaceful" aspect might be a bit of a spin. If the police were merely rounding up peaceful protesters, it would indeed be a free speech issue. The First Amendment protects the right to express one's views, no matter how repugnant they may be. This means that these individuals can falsely claim that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians without government intervention.

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However, the pro-Hamas lobby is concealing the fact that the backlash is not about these individuals expressing their views. The issue lies with the other activities associated with these protests. There have been several instances of violent behavior by pro-Hamas activists. For example, a Jewish student journalist at Yale was stabbed in the eye by a pro-Hamas protester wielding a Palestinian flag. There have been numerous other instances of pro-Hamas violence on campus.

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In some cases, pro-Hamas activists have resorted to blocking roads to prevent motorists from reaching their destinations. This tactic did not work well for them in Florida. Unlike the pro-Hamas protesters who deliberately stalled traffic in Democrat-run cities like Chicago and San Francisco, those who tried it in Miami quickly learned that law enforcement officers would not tolerate such behavior.

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Despite the numerous videos showing the danger that these protests pose, it seems that the folks at Solidarity House in Detroit are not overly concerned.

Interestingly, Fain endorsed Joe Biden for president this year, despite Biden's desire to crush his union by laying off his workers, as I covered last year. When I examined the potential job losses due to the transition to electric vehicles, I was astounded that the union leadership would even consider supporting the Democrats.

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President Joe Biden praised General Motors chief executive Mary Barra at a 2022 event, expressing gratitude for her push towards all-electric production over the next decade. However, this decision could backfire on both parties amid a historic United Auto Workers strike.

The 150,000-member union has singled out Barra as an example of corporate greed at the "Big Three" automakers, which also includes Ford and Stellantis. UAW president Shawn Fain declared "war" on the Big Three last month, citing the $200 million Barra has amassed over the past decade. The union is demanding a significant increase in salaries and benefits for its members, along with assurances that jobs will be protected during the transition to EV production.

This dramatic shift will likely result in a significant loss of auto industry jobs. One estimate suggests that the transition to EV production could cost 117,000 auto jobs.

While this may not seem like a big deal to Fain, who will likely be retired by the time this happens, it is a significant concern for the union members who pay dues and stand to lose their well-paying jobs. However, Fain will have the memories of his time with Rashida Tlaib and the Hamas supporters on college campuses to comfort him.

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