In a remarkable display of political engagement, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are making their way to Detroit, aligning themselves with the ongoing United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against the Big Three automakers – Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. This move comes as a bid to secure the allegiance of the blue-collar demographic, albeit through differing ideological lenses.
President Biden stood in solidarity with the auto union workers, who have been on strike since September 15, advocating for fair compensation from the corporations. This visit was historic as Biden joined a picket line, becoming the first sitting president to do so in modern times. UAW’s union president, Shawn Fain, said it was “a great day for our members” — but there is still a lot of work left to do.
This decision, however, has not been without criticism. Detractors argue that the President is taking a political gamble by choosing sides instead of mediating between the parties involved. The White House, on the other hand, maintains that the President is not partaking in the negotiations but merely showing his support for the union workers.
Even Elon Musk weighed in with a message for Biden: “They want a 40% pay raise and a 32-hour workweek. Sure way to drive GM, Ford, and Chrysler bankrupt in the fast lane.” The risk of UAW’s 40% pay hike for its 150,000 members at the “Big Three” U.S. automakers – General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler – could send them again into bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, former President Trump will hold a rally on Wednesday to highlight concerns about the green energy policies of the Biden administration and their potential impact on jobs. Trump’s rally is seen as an attempt to woo the union workers and sway them away from Biden, especially as he is considered a GOP frontrunner for the 2024 nomination. His criticism extends to the UAW leadership, particularly targeting UAW President Shawn Fain for endorsing policies that, according to Trump, jeopardize the jobs of traditional auto workers.
The UAW strike has seen thousands of auto workers walking off their jobs after the expiration of their four-year contracts on September 14. The strike expanded a week later to 38 parts and distribution locations across 20 states, targeting G.M. and Stellantis, with over 18,000 UAW members participating since its inception. The core of the strike revolves around securing a win-win agreement that would keep the American auto manufacturing sector thriving with well-paid UAW jobs.
While Biden seeks to champion fair compensation from corporations, Trump is rallying against the perceived threat of job losses due to the shift towards green energy, a cornerstone of the Biden administration’s agenda.
Furthermore, the UAW’s public relations efforts seem to be resonating with the public, as a recent Gallup poll revealed a 75% support for the union in their negotiations with the U.S. auto companies. However, the Big Three expressed disappointment at the union negotiators for showing a lack of interest in what they termed as a “historic” wage increase offer.