HomePoliticsAs Trump Courts Detroit Unions, Democrats Urge Biden to Join UAW Strikers

As Trump Courts Detroit Unions, Democrats Urge Biden to Join UAW Strikers

President Biden is coming under increasing pressure from some Democratic lawmakers to do something that none of his predecessors appear to have done during his time in office: join striking workers walking a picket line.

As the United Auto Workers take action against all three of the nation’s largest automakers, scores of Democrats in Michigan and across the country have expressed concern that Biden’s likely rival in next year’s election, former President Donald Trump, is trying convince union voters and weaken a crucial Democratic party. constituency by visiting a strike site yourself.

Subscribe to The Post Most newsletter for the most important and interesting stories from The Washington Post.

Trump is planning a rally in Detroit next week with union workers, including auto workers, during the Republican Party’s next primary debate, although it is unclear whether he will also visit the picket line, according to a person familiar with campaign planning who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the plans.

Democrats want Biden to highlight the differences between the parties on labor issues.

“It would send a very strong message that Democrats stand for working people — I really think Biden needs to show up, and soon,” said Michigan state Rep. Mike McFall, a first-term Democrat whose district includes part of Detroit includes. “I am very concerned about the arrival of Trump and what that would mean for our party in November.”

Biden has applauded the UAW’s targeted attack on Detroit’s Big Three manufacturers, calling on General Motors, Ford and Stellantis on Friday to improve their wage proposals to the union. The president’s aides believe he has already gone far beyond supporting labor through numerous executive orders and legislation aimed at improving outcomes for workers. And yet the union drive has presented a political puzzle for the president, who must figure out how far to go to stand with UAW workers.

The White House declined to comment on whether Biden is considering a visit to the picket line. But in interviews with The Washington Post, more than a half-dozen Democrats in Congress and the Michigan state legislature said he should go. UAW leadership has also told the White House that a presidential visit would be welcome, though no formal invitation has been extended, according to two people with knowledge of internal discussions and a UAW official, all three of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. to describe private conversations.

See also  Frequent LA GOP congressional candidate accused of misusing campaign funds

“I know the UAW family would love it if the most powerful person in the world – the President of the United States – came and held a sign in solidarity with them. But I hope he does it in a way where he actually sits down and has a roundtable discussion with some key people, and really listens to how difficult it has been,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). “Of course the arrival of the president would be extremely important. But people want someone who will advocate for them and demand some form of economic justice for them and their families to stand in solidarity.”

Several members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and John Fetterman (D-Pa.), have joined a UAW picket since the strike began at midnight Friday morning. .

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California), who co-wrote an op-ed about the strike with UAW President Shawn Fain and joined striking workers in Michigan and Ohio on Monday, said in a statement: “It would be great if President Biden will also as he has been the most pro-union president in decades.”

Asked about calls for Biden to join the picket line, White House spokeswoman Robyn Patterson pointed to the president’s previous statements supporting the union. Biden said Friday that automakers must “go further to ensure that record corporate profits deliver record contracts,” echoing the UAW’s comments. Biden has appointed staunch labor allies to the National Labor Relations Board and the federal judiciary, and provisions in a 2021 law that Biden supported gave workers more bargaining power and boosted union organizing efforts across the country.

“There is no question that the president stands with UAW workers,” Patterson said by email. “His statement on Friday made that crystal clear.”

See also  Ron DeSantis appears to be politically reborn, touting abortion bans to faith-based voters

Still, Trump’s visit to woo workers could complicate the White House’s political calculus. The former president has eroded labor support for Democrats in the Rust Belt and could try to make further progress ahead of the 2024 elections. Trump’s planned trip to Detroit was first reported by the New York Times on Monday.

On the policy front, experts agree there is no doubt that Biden has done much more to support unions. Trump implemented numerous policies loathed by organized labor, weakened the NLRB and passed legislation aimed at lower corporate taxes. And Trump has publicly feuded with Fain, ridiculing the union leader and urging union members not to pay dues. In an interview with NBC News that aired Sunday on “Meet the Press,” Trump said auto workers are “being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should support Trump,” a sentiment he reiterated in a post on Truth Social, the social media network he owns.

Some Democrats in Michigan expressed concern about the idea that Trump could hit a picket line before Biden.

“It would provide a lot of news coverage and a free media for Trump. We don’t need that,” said state Rep. Donavan McKinney, calling the prospect “terrible.”

“President Biden can take over the narrative and show that the administration, and Democrats as a whole, support their largest base, which is the unions and the working class,” McKinney said. “It would speak volumes… What can we do to get Biden here?”

State Rep. Jason Morgan added: “I would like to see Biden hit the picket line here in Michigan… There is tremendous support for our unions today, and there is no reason not to join our workers in demanding better wages and better working conditions . “

Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has worked for Biden, said polls show that young people, especially Black voters, support the UAW and that Biden needs both to win in Michigan in 2024.

See also  Trump, DeSantis and other 2024 GOP prospects vie for attention during Iowa-Iowa State football game

“Voters are very supportive of the strike and the organizing that’s going on – they really agree with the premise that CEOs are hoarding the money and prosperity should be spared,” Lake said. “I think it’s a great idea for him to go.”

However, not all Democrats think Biden should hurry.

James Blanchard, who served as Michigan’s Democratic governor from 1983 to 1991, said Biden has made his position on the UAW strike “very clear” and that walking the picket line could set a precedent in which the president is expected to do much more will walk more. .

“I’m not sure the president should march a picket line — you start one, and you have to do the other. He has played a very strong role with the UAW workers,” Blanchard said.

Some conservatives also objected to the prospect of the president taking sides so visibly. Traditionally, presidents have tried to play neutral mediator whenever possible. (Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University, said Biden would likely be the first president in a century to join a picket line.)

“You’re putting the full weight of the federal government on one side of a private conflict, and that usually doesn’t get done because we have a vision of fairness in the country and you don’t put your thumb on the scale,” Doug said. Holtz-Eakin, a GOP policy analyst. “It’s so far over the line that people have lost sight of the boundaries. I think it’s really wrong.”

Still, some workers said they would welcome Biden.

Sharifia Fambro, 52, a striking worker at the Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, who makes $19.10 an hour, said she hopes Biden shows up at the picket line to “show his solidarity with the UAW.” Fambro, who installs fascias on Bronco vehicles, added that she believes it would help elevate workers’ causes if the president “shows he knows what we’re going through.”

– – –

Lauren Kaori Gurley contributed to this report.

related content

- Advertisement -


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments