North Dakota governor and Republican presidential candidate on UAW strikes: NPR

NPR’s Susan Davis and Asma Khalid talk with North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum about his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.


The United Auto Workers strike becomes a campaign issue. President Biden touts his strong relationship with labor unions as he hits the trail. And Republican front-runner Donald Trump will skip next week’s primary debate to travel to Detroit to meet with auto workers. Meanwhile, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who is also running for the Republican nomination, spoke with NPR’s Asma Khalid and Susan Davis about this and other topics. Here’s part of their conversation from the NPR Politics podcast.

DOUG BURGUM: Well, I feel like markets actually work, in the sense that people can choose who they want to work for today. I mean, if you’re an auto worker and you don’t like your salary and you can – and you have a skill set, you can probably pick your city in America and decide, I’ll go there work, and I will live there. I’m going to do what I want. I mean, the level of availability for people who want to work is at an all-time high. So right now, the unions, in this battle between, you know, creating pressure on wage rates to rise, have a huge advantage. So I think they’re going to – they’re in a great negotiating position just because a lot of people aren’t working in America right now.

So I…but I think markets work. I mean, we have automakers in this country that are not unionized, they are not on strike and their workers are happy. So it’s not like we can just take three of our auto companies, the oldest and maybe the ones that are most steeped in history, but we can – you can look all over America at the new auto plants where there are non-unionized workers. They are happy. They have a great job. They obtained great advantages. They love their communities. So it can work both ways in our country.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Governor, you signed a near-total ban on abortions in your state. If Congress sent you legislation that would enact federal restrictions on abortion, would you sign those restrictions?


KHALID: Do you want to explain?

BURGUM: No, I’m happy about it. On the first day of our announcement, I was asked this question in my very first interview. And the answer is no. I mean, it goes back to the 10th Amendment. Republicans fought for 50 years to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Dobbs decision did that and returned power to the states. And then, the very next day, the Republicans said, “oh, no, we have to – the federal government has to get involved.

I know this is an extremely important issue to people on both sides, but the idea that somehow we would say that in this one exception we can violate the Constitution and that the The federal government can step in and take power that belongs to the states – because it was the original 13 states that created the federal government, not the other way around. These states have delegated powers to the federal government. The rest belongs to the people or the state.

KHALID: Governor, when it comes to immigration, do you think the United States should expand legal pathways to citizenship? Do you think there are other alternative ideas on how to handle the situation at the border? I mean, what are your big ideas for immigration reform?

BURGUM: Well, unfortunately, today we have to secure the border before at least the Republican Party wants to have a discussion about immigration reform. But it has to be at the top of the list. I have been to the border several times. We have to fix it. But we are still lucky. We have an opportunity. When the best and brightest in the world want to come to our country, we have an opportunity.

And at present, even Canada, Canada – chosen from a million people from our country – has come to study in the United States. We trained them in our best universities. They obtained advanced degrees. Their student visas have run out. We’re going to try to send them home, and Canada is putting up a welcome sign. And a million highly skilled people have crossed the border north to help boost their economies. So we are wrong about every aspect of immigration. And it needs to be fixed. And this must be a top priority.

CHANG: And you can hear this whole conversation on the NPR Politics podcast, which is available wherever you get your podcasts.


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