Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guest gathered at Fountain Park during a campaign rally on March 19, 2016 in Fountain Hills, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
A day after President Joe Biden joined striking United Auto Workers on the picket line in Michigan alongside UAW President Shawn Fain, the labor leader says he has no intention of meeting with former President Donald Trump when he speaks Wednesday at a non-union automotive parts manufacturer and supplier in Macomb County.
Fain, speaking Tuesday on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, said he saw no reason to meet the GOP former president who is running again in 2024.
“I don’t think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for,” he told Blitzer. “He serves the billionaire class and that’s what’s wrong with this country.”
When Blitzer suggested that Fain was effectively endorsing Biden, the UAW president said that was not the case.
“It’s not an endorsement for anyone,” he told Blitzer. “It’s just flat-out how I view the former president.”
The UAW has not made an endorsement in the 2024 presidential election.
Fain was by Biden’s side Tuesday when the president arrived at Detroit Metro Airport and addressed picketers from UAW Local 174 at the Willow Run Redistribution Center in metro Detroit, which has been reported that it was the first time in modern history that a sitting president has visited an active strike.
Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, the three manufacturers impacted by the strike of United Auto Workers (UAW) employees, failed to reach a contract agreement with the UAW by the original deadline on Sept. 15. Among other demands, UAW members are hoping to secure a new contract with double-digit pay raises and the elimination of worker tiers.
Workers at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, the Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio, and General Motors’ Wentzville Assembly in Missouri were the first facilities called to strike, and have since been joined by 38 more Stellantis and GM auto parts plants that were called to strike after an agreement was not reached by Friday.
Meanwhile, Trump’s visit to Drake Enterprises in Clinton Township comes amid his continued claims that the auto industry’s transition to manufacturing electric vehicles will ultimately endanger the jobs of UAW members, a theme expanded on by Nathan Stemple, president of Drake Enterprises when he spoke to Fox News about Trump’s planned appearance.
Stemple said that “it was complete luck” that his company is hosting Trump Wednesday.
“Some of our colleagues that we worked with reached out to us and said that the [former] president was looking for a location to host this event,” he said. “And we were more than willing to do so.”
When asked by the Fox News host what the effect would be if EV manufacturing took over immediately, Stemple said, “It would affect us drastically. It’d put us out of business. If electric vehicles took over today and completely across the board, we’d pretty much be out of business. We supply passenger vehicles, mostly all driveline components, as well as heavy duty truck components. So if all the trucks and vehicles went electric, we would be scratching for something to do.”
However, Fain told Blitzer one of the major reasons for the strike is to ensure that didn’t happen.
“It doesn’t, if companies do the right thing and put this work under our agreements or to our standards,” he said. “And again, it’s the companies driving this race to the bottom and they’re using our tax dollars to finance it.”
Fain also blasted Trump’s choice of location for his visit, saying it should make clear he isn’t a friend of union labor.
“I find the pathetic irony that the former president is going to hold a rally for union members at a non-union business,” said Fain. “His track record speaks for itself. In 2008 during the Great Recession, he blamed UAW members. He blamed our contracts for everything that was wrong with these companies. That’s a complete lie.”
The Biden campaign has released a 30-second ad in Michigan hitting Trump on his record with autoworkers ahead of the Republican’s visit.
“He says he stands with autoworkers but as president, Donald Trump passed tax breaks for his rich friends while automakers shuttered their plants and Michigan lost manufacturing jobs,” the narrator says. “Manufacturing is coming back to Michigan because Joe Biden doesn’t just talk; he delivers.”
The Democratic National Committee also unveiled a billboard campaign across the Detroit metro area slamming Trump policies and positions that they say have failed the auto industry and its workers.
One reads: “What did Trump say should have happened to the car industry in 2008-2009?” and then paired it with a quote from the former President. “YOU COULD HAVE LET IT GO BANKRUPT.”
Another reads: “Who passed tax breaks that incentivized companies to ship American jobs overseas?” and then points to a picture of Trump with the words “THIS GUY.”
“We all remember what happened after Donald Trump came to Michigan to make promises to workers in 2016: factories shuttered, auto industry employment fell, and jobs were shipped overseas,” said DNC Chair Jaime Harrison. “Donald Trump will always put the ultra-wealthy and corporations ahead of working people, and Michiganders aren’t falling for his empty words again.”
Michigan Advance is a sister publication of Kentucky Lantern and part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.