In a surprising development today, the Republican Party has come out against the UAW strike and has begun to attack striking workers.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which fully backs and works closely with Sen. Chuck Grassley’s reelection campaign, put out a statement today accusing UAW workers of “jeopardizing entire crops and the livelihood of farmers all across Iowa.”
The committee is using the strike as a way to attack Democratic US Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer, who grew up in a union family, and to boost Grassley.
“Far from actually representing the voices of hardworking Iowa farmers, Finkenauer is instead siding with union strikers whose actions are jeopardizing entire crops and the livelihood of farmers all across Iowa,” the NRSC’s statement reads. “Why doesn’t Abby Finkenauer care about the livelihood of Iowa’s farmers?”
Finkenauer has frequently visited the picket lines outside John Deere facilities across the state, and her entire political biography is based around fighting for blue-collar families like the one she grew up in.
The NRSC cites an Iowa Field Report story that says supply chain issues and striking workers are “inflicting trauma on one of America’s most important demographics, the family farmer.”
“The strike, and by extension Finkenauer’s support, has only exacerbated an already tough year for Deere, who was forced to stop taking orders for some models for next year due to production concerns and supply chain bottlenecks,” Field Report wrote. “Those production delays, now made even longer by the strike, could prove to be fatal to family farms.”
Many workers have pointed out that John Deere is having a particularly successful year, a major part of why workers are frustrated that the company hasn’t offered them better wages and benefits.
“Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 29 percent, to $11.527 billion, for the third quarter of 2021 and rose 27 percent, to $32.697 billion, for nine months,” John Deere touted of their financial success in a statement in August.
The Field Report story also suggests, without evidence, that the general public has now turned against the John Deere workers.
Starting Line has been closely watching organic reaction to the strike across Iowa Facebook channels, especially in politically neutral places, and the overwhelming sentiment online remains positive for the UAW workers.
The NRSC is one of the major national party committees for Republicans, and will play a very large role in the 2022 campaigns. Their new anti-strike position may preview further ads or messaging in Iowa that attacks striking workers in order to support Grassley.
The UAW strike has largely avoided partisan politics up to this point. While it’s been almost exclusively Democratic elected officials and candidates who have shown up at the picket lines to show their support, Iowa Republican officials have largely played it safe throughout the strike, offering up neutral messages on the strike and simply saying they are monitoring it and hope both sides can come to a fair agreement soon.
“Hopefully they’ll work through the process and get the employees back to work sooner rather than later,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said last month.
Grassley earlier told reporters that it would be “inappropriate” for politicians to get involved in the strike one way or the other.
Notably, the NRSC’s accusation of striking workers hurting farmers was contradicted initially by Grassley himself early on during the strike.
“I don’t think the strike’s going impact farmers as much as the ability not to get computer chips, because tractors are so modernized now and so technically advanced that I don’t think that that’s as much of a problem as the supply chain problem,” Grassley said on October 14.
That, though, was also the day where Grassley admitted he wasn’t even aware that the strike was happening until he was told by a reporter about it.
A few days later, Grassley said he didn’t have any evidence that the strike was making supply chain issues any worse.
“I’ve heard concerns about farmers maybe needing parts and we have this supply chain problem,” Grassley said. “It could make that worse, but I don’t have any evidence of that at this point.”
Today seems to make a new approach by the Republican Party, one that is declaring their open opposition to the strike and seeks to smear those workers for fighting for a better contract.
“I hope this doesn’t become too politicized,” Grassley said in October.
by Pat Rynard