WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will travel to Michigan on Tuesday to join the United Auto Workers on the picket line in an extraordinary display of support for the union’s strike against the nation’s three largest automakers.
Biden’s trip comes after UAW President Shawn Fain invited Biden to join the picket line in remarks Friday as the union ratchets up its strike against Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Stellantis.
“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. “It’s time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs.”
Further details about Biden’s trip, including which striking site he will visit, remain unclear.
His visit will come one day before former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner to win the 2024 Republican nomination, has said he plans to meet with striking auto workers in the Detroit area Wednesday in a push to court blue-collar workers for his 2024 run.
Trump has blamed the proliferation of electric vehicles, embraced by Biden, for disseminating the auto industry. Trump, who is skipping the second Republican primary debate to visit Michigan, isn’t expected to join the picket line but instead give a speech to rank-and-file members of various unions, including auto workers.
Biden faced pressure from progressives to join UAW workers on the picket line after Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Sen. Bernie Sanders and others each traveled to striking sites this week.
For the first time Friday, Fain publicly invited Biden.
“We invite and encourage everyone who supports our cause to join us on the picket line − from our friends and families, all the way up to the president of the United States,” Fain said.
Biden faces a political tightrope with the UAW strike. He has decades of close ties with organized labor and said he wants to be known as the “most pro-union president” in U.S history. But Biden also wants to avoid national economic repercussions that could result from a prolonged strike.
Biden has endorsed UAW’s demands for higher pay, saying last week that “record corporate profits, which they have, should be shared by record contracts for the UAW.” But at the request of the UAW, Biden has stayed out of negotiations between the union and automakers.
Fain extended his invitation to Biden after announcing plans to expand UAW’s strike to 38 new sites across 20 states. He said the union has made good progress with Ford Motor Co. this week, but General Motors and Stellantis “will need some pushing.”
White House press secretary Jean-Pierre said the White House “will do everything that we possibly can to help in any way that the parties would like us to.”
A White House team led by Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and White House adviser Gene Sperling was originally scheduled to visit Detroit this week. But the trip was scrapped after UAW’s leadership made it clear they did not want help at the negotiating table.
Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden to join UAW workers on the picket line in Michigan
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