NEW YORK — U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga isn’t ready for the federal government to intervene with negotiations between General Motors and the United Auto Workers.
The Republican lawmaker told Fox Business Tuesday that the negotiations are a private sector matter and it should stay that way.
“We just need to be very careful about the federal government coming in and big-footing this,” Huizenga said. “No doubt, if they have come to an impasse, they can help move it forward and maybe help negotiations, clarify, but I don’t think we’re at that point yet.”
Huizenga’s home district of Zeeland has hundreds of union auto workers, among the many people on strike in West Michigan. The effects of the strike are being felt nationwide, causing parts suppliers to lay off employees and forcing GM to close a factory in Mexico.
Industry analysts estimate the strike costs GM around $80 million per day. Those on strike have said they want a bigger share of the profits GM has made, but the company wants to cut labor costs to get closer to U.S. factories run by foreign automakers.
Huizenga said legislators need to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, to protect American workers. The federal government’s website says the agreement will create a more level playing field for American workers, specifically improving rules for automobile manufacturers.
“We’ve got to be very cognizant of the effects of this,” Huizenga said. “But I still think people working in good faith should continue to move forward. Our suppliers are kind of mixed. Some of them are really afraid as they’ve slowed down and had to lay some people off voluntarily that they may not be able to do that voluntarily, and that they’re going to have to do layoffs, and at which point they could be going into other industries.”
Huizenga also said he thinks Michigan workers will vote to reelect President Donald Trump, and the USMCA is a big part of that.