Biden will travel to Michigan to ‘join the picket line’ with UAW workers on strike


U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during an event announcing a new White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, September 22, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Joe Biden on Friday said he will visit Michigan next week to support strikes by the United Auto Workers.

“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,” Biden said in a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The president’s announcement came hours after UAW boss Shawn Fain invited Biden to join the striking autoworkers.

Biden’s hastily arranged trip will occur only 24 hours before former President Donald Trump is scheduled to arrive in the state to show his own solidarity with the autoworkers.

The frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination announced this week that he planned to skip Wednesday’s GOP primary debate in California, in order to visit Detroit and give a speech to UAW members.

Biden sided with the autoworkers on Sept. 15 when the UAW initially targeted three key plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.

Record profits at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis “have not been shared fairly, in my view, with the workers,” Biden said during a brief address.

The strike has since expanded with Fain making good on his promise to target additional plants if progress was not made in negotiations with the automakers.

The union boss announced on Friday workers will strike at every parts and distribution facility run by General Motors and Stellantis. The walkout will hit 38 locations across 20 states in nine regions, Fain said during a Facebook Live stream.

The union spared Ford because the company demonstrated it was serious about reaching an agreement, Fain said.

Biden often campaigns on his middle class upbringing and has declared himself the most pro-union president in American history. He is running for a second term in office next year and may need to win Michigan, a heavily unionized swing state that is the traditional heart of the U.S. auto industry.

Unlike Biden, however, Trump will not be there to support the entire strike effort. Instead, he aims to drive a wedge between striking UAW workers and union leaders like Fain. Michigan was crucial to Trump’s 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton, and a major factor in his loss to Biden in 2020.

“The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership,” he told NBC News in an interview that aired Sunday. “Their leadership should endorse Trump.”

Fain has pushed back against Trump’s attempts to make inroads with UAW, effectively declaring the former president one of the union’s enemies.

“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,” Fain said after the former president’s trip to Michigan was announced.

The UAW president has also appeared cool at times to Biden. Fain told MSNBC in an interview Monday that he did not see a major role for the White House in mediating an agreement with the automakers.

“This battle is not about the president,” Fain said. “It’s not about the former president or any other person prior to that. This battle is about the workers standing up for economic and social justice and getting their fair share because they’re fed up with going backwards.

The UAW endorsed Biden’s 2020 bid for the White House but has not yet backed his reelection campaign.

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