The biggest American autoworkers' union is rejoicing Tuesday night as President Barack Obama won re-election.
The United Auto Workers expressed pride in Obama and congratulated him on the victory, shortly after he surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the presidency by carrying Ohio, a big auto manufacturing state.
“President Obama stood by American workers in their darkest hour, and UAW members and citizens in communities that are part of the thriving auto industry, are grateful for his willingness to bet on us,” said UAW President Bob King.
In the auto-heavy state of Michigan, Obama beat Romney, a Michigan native, in a race where the president’s bailout of General Motors and Chrysler three years ago weighed heavily.
Saving America’s auto industry was a big part of Obama’s campaign rhetoric. More than $80 billion was invested into the two automakers as part of the process that helped them rebuild with government loans.
On the other hand, Romney was heavily criticized for a November 2008 op-ed he wrote for The New York Times titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” The Republican argued in the opinion piece that government investment in the auto companies would not save them, but quite the opposite.
“If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye,” Romney wrote. “It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed. Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.”
Romney's op-ed figured heavily in Democratic attack ads.
But the UAW says because of the help provided by Obama, the “domestic auto industry is roaring back, with investment in factories, new workers and manufacturing returned to our country.”
“This remarkable turnaround is the product of government, labor and community working together to find solutions to our nation’s problems and today it is driving the country’s economic recovery,” King said.
It was winning Ohio that put Obama past the 270 votes needed to win. Polls had long projected that Obama would win that state.
Ohio was one of the crucial swing states throughout this year’s campaign. In the final days of the election, Ohio came even more into play when the Republicans made a final push there before Election Day.
Romney’s campaign had released a misleading ad, stating that Chrysler’s Jeep division was thinking of shipping all American manufacturing jobs to China. However, more than one top executive at Chrysler knocked Romney for making false statements and they also made it clear that they were merely restarting production that halted there years ago.
Democrats also called out Romney for misleading people in the state. And the UAW cried shame on the Republican for scaring, the union said, autoworkers and their families and for hurting the domestic industry.
The UAW also filed an ethics complaint against Romney for the alleged $15 million he made in the 2009 auto bailout by way of investments in companies tied to the rescued automakers, through a hedge fund the Romneys had invested in.
With the economy and jobs being the chief concerns of voters this year, and an improvement in the unemployment rate, the UAW said the 2012 election was a success because of the commitment of working people who were sure of the kind of leader they wanted for the next four years.
The UAW sums that leader up as “someone who believes in a better America with middle-class jobs, a strong auto and manufacturing sector, Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, Medicaid for those in need, and a fair tax system that favors the 47 percent instead of rewarding the 1 percent.”
Both Obama and Romney had the success of the middle class high up in their campaign narratives. However, earlier this year, while at a fundraising dinner with wealthy donors, Romney dismissed 47 percent of Americans as moochers who depended on government handouts.
Obama had pleaded with Americans in the months, weeks and days ahead of the election that the country was on the right course and that it shouldn’t change course now.
And while economic improvement has been slow, the UAW said there is still much work that needs to be done.
In a tweet before his victory speech, Obama told his followers, “This happened because of you. Thank you. We’re all in this together. That’s how we campaigned, and that’s who we are. Thank you.”
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...