President of United Auto Workers (UAW) Shawn Fain filed a complaint Thursday against Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), alleging he threatened workers’ ability to strike in violation of US federal labor law. UAW members have been on strike against three major automakers in the US—including Ford, Stellantis and General Motors—for about a week over pay and labor disputes. The complaint filed Thursday centers around public remarks Scott made earlier in the week. During a presidential campaign event, Scott said, “you strike, you’re fired” after praising former President Ronald Regan’s decision in 1981 to fire federal employees who went on strike.
Filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the complaint argues that Scott’s remarks “threatened employees with adverse consequences if they engage in protected, concerted activity by publicly responding to questions about striking workers.” According to the complaint, Scott’s conduct violates the National Labor Relations Act, which protects workers’ rights to “self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”
Scott responded to the complaint Friday, stating, “They want to threaten me and shut me up. They don’t scare me.” Scott is currently campaigning for the US presidency in the Republican primary. If he obtains the party’s nomination, Scott would serve as the Republican candidate in the November 2024 US presidential election.
UAW members have actively been on strike for about a week against what are known as the “Big Three” automakers—Ford, Stellantis and General Motors. After the latter two companies failed to make reasonable progress toward a fair agreement this week, Fain announced Friday that the strike would expand significantly to 38 locations across 20 states. UAW members are demanding a 36 percent pay raise across a four-year contract, annual cost-of-living adjustments, the re-establishment of pension benefits, greater job security and a four-day work week.
UAW is one of the largest labor unions established in North America. According to their constitution, UAW exists “to improve working conditions, create a uniform system of shorter hours, higher wages, [and] health care and pensions.” Fain was elected by union members and sworn in as UAW president earlier this year, on March 26.