Former Vice President Mike Pence pivoted to talk of “free enterprise” after CNN’s Jake Tapper confronted him with examples of pay disparity between CEOs and employees amid the United Auto Workers strike.
In an interview with Pence on Sunday, Tapper asked the GOP presidential candidate about an “issue of general fairness” as he brought up the difference in pay after employees began a strike against the “Big Three” automakers on Friday.
“In 1965, during this era of the great middle-class expansion in the United States, CEOs made about 20 times what their typical workers made. But, as I noted to you, the CEO of [General Motors] makes 362 times what her typical employees make,” Tapper noted before directing his question to Pence: “I just want to make sure I get an answer from you. Is that OK? Do you think that’s fair?”
Pence told Tapper that it should be left to the shareholders of GM.
“I’m somebody that believes in free enterprise. I think those are decisions that can be made by shareholders and creating pressure,” Pence said.
He continued: “And I’ll fully support how these publicly traded companies operate. I’m not interested in government mandates or government bullying when it comes to those kind of issues.”
The strike — which 75% of Americans support — marks the first time the UAW union has taken part in a simultaneous work stoppage at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.
About 150,000 union members work at the three automakers while others rely on production at the companies, as well.
UAW President Shawn Fain pointed to the hourly starting wage of an Ohio plant worker compared to the pay of GM CEO Mary Barra, adding that a newly hired person “would have to work full time for 16 years to earn what” Barra makes in a week.
Pence, who has blamed the strike on Biden’s economic policies, said he doesn’t think the strike is “about the usual fault lines” of salary differences between white-collar and blue-collar workers.
The former vice president, when asked whether he sides with the CEOs or the union, said: “I side with American workers. I side with all American families. I side with the people of this country, Jake, that are living under the failed policies of the Biden administration.”