President Joe Biden will be traveling to Michigan next week to meet with striking United Automobile Workers, he said on Friday afternoon.
“Tuesday, I’ll go to Michigan to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create,” the president wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The visit would likely make Biden the first sitting president to join a picket line in at least a century, The Washington Post reported. “This president takes seriously his role as the most pro-union president in history,” Seth Harris, a former top labor policy advisor to Biden, told The New York Times. “Sometimes that means breaking precedent.”
The announcement came as the UAW expanded its work stoppage to 38 more locations nationwide. Auto workers have been striking at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis plants since September 15.
UAW president Shaun Fain publicly invited Biden to the picket line earlier Friday morning. “We invite and encourage everyone who supports our cause to join us on the picket lines, from our friends and family all the way to the president of the United States,” Fain said in a speech streamed online.
Unlike several other unions, Fain has declined to endorse the president’s re-election campaign, even as Biden has made soliciting support from labor a centerpiece of his 2024 bid. Last week, Fain told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that a UAW endorsement needs “to be earned” and that the union expects “actions, not words.” Fain reiterated the message after offering the invitation on Friday. “We’re going to make endorsements with people that are there for us, and that’s shown through your actions, not through words,” he said.
The UAW and the Biden administration have been at odds this year over the White House’s investment in electric vehicle production, which requires fewer workers. When Biden announced a $9.2 billion loan to Ford in June, Fain accused him of “facilitating this corporate greed with taxpayer money” and failing to ensure that EV jobs are well-paid and unionized.
Biden will visit one day before former president Donald Trump gives a primetime speech in Detroit instead of appearing at the second GOP debate. The former president has refused to pick sides in the labor dispute, and has said that Fain is “not doing a good job in representing his union.” But he has repeatedly argued that Biden’s electric car investments are hurting auto workers.
“Crooked Joe sold them down the river with his ridiculous all Electric Car Hoax,” Trump wrote on Truth Social Friday night in response to Biden’s announced visit. “This wasn’t Biden’s idea, he can’t put two sentences together. It was the idea of the Radical Left Fascists, Marxists, & Communists who control him and who, in so doing, are DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY! Within 3 years, all of these cars will be made in China.”
Trump added that if “UAW ‘leadership’ doesn’t ENDORSE me, and if I don’t win the Election, the Autoworkers are ‘toast.’”
After Trump announced his Detroit speech last week, Fain told CNN that “every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers.”
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