OPINION: Josh Hawley is a fraud; he doesn’t stand with workers, he just poses

UAW Local 2250
Legislative Chair

“Isn’t it great that Josh Hawley — a Republican — showed up to the picket line?” That’s a thing I’ve heard a number of people say in the past few days.

Now, I need to back up a second. I work as a union electrician and serve as the legislative chair for UAW Local 2250 here in Wentzville, Mo., where we are entering the third week of our strike against the local General Motors plant. GM, along with the Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis, have been making record profits because our members are busting their humps day in and day out on these conveyors, building the trucks and vans that build this country.

If you look at our paychecks today, you’d think we’re still in that recession 14 years ago.

These companies have had the record-breaking cash to increase CEO pay by 40 percent and to hand out billions of dollars in buybacks to shareholders. Those profits haven’t been shared. At all. Workers aren’t getting any of that. In fact, average real hourly earnings for autoworkers have fallen by 19.3 percent since the 2008 taxpayer-funded auto bailout.

POSING WITH UAW MEMBERS on the picket line in Wentzville, Mo. on Sept. 25, Sen. Josh Hawley’s well-timed photo-op can’t erase his anti-worker record.

And it turns out the corporations’ success can be traced back to that deal, when we — the working people who actually make the cars and trucks — took a concessionary contract to help the industry make it through the recession. The union lost 21,000 jobs, took on responsibility for pension and health care for retired members, and lost other material benefits. The American auto industry would not exist today without our sacrifice. But if you look at our paychecks today, you’d think we’re still in that recession 14 years ago. So we’re taking action.

This isn’t my first rodeo. I was president of UAW Local 2250 during our last strike in 2019. Nobody ever wants to go on strike. It’s always the last resort. But I’m grateful for the support our union has seen from our community, our state and our country. Americans get in their bones that working people are the soul of this nation — we build things, we get stuff done, we make this country great. Over 50 percent of Americans support our strike, and 71 percent of Americans support Labor unions. Countless people have shown up to the picket with food, supplies, well wishes and more.

Which brings me back to Sen. Josh Hawley stopping by the picket.

There’s a stark difference between staging a photo-op with unions when our approval numbers are high, on the one hand, and taking real votes in the Senate to fight for us on the other. We need reporters and others in the media to understand that difference.

We’re out here doing our jobs: We build the cars, vans and trucks that this nation depends on. That’s our job.

Your job, if you’re in the Senate — or any other public office — is to vote to protect the people of your state. Vote to keep and re-shore jobs in this country. Vote for workers like us to earn a living wage. Vote to fight back against massive corporations. It’s not enough just to talk about it or to write op-eds about how talking about it helps you win elections — you have to actually do it.

We do our job. Josh Hawley isn’t doing his.

In Missouri, he supported the anti-union “right-to-work” scam in 2018. (We beat that back at the ballot by huge margins.) He opposed a minimum wage increase. (We secured that at the ballot, too.) He is opposed to the PRO Act. And in the Senate, he’s gotten a zero percent score from the UAW for his votes on the actual priorities of America’s autoworkers. He’s even a reliable vote against legislation to create more jobs here in Missouri.

Working people aren’t stupid. Nor are we props. We follow the money. We know that this so-called populist has taken thousands of dollars from the Big Three. We know he’s taken thousands from a non-union foreign company like Toyota. We always follow the money because that’s what seems to call the shots in Washington.

And we know he’s only changed his tune because of polling and the fact that he’s up for re-election next year — not because of any real support for workers.

Like I said, this isn’t my first rodeo. I know a fraud when I see one. And working people are sick and tired of it.

(Glenn Kage was president of UAW Local 2250 during the last strike at GM’s Wentzville assembly plant in 2019. He is Local 2250’s legislative chair and works as an electrician at the Wentzville plant.)

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