President Joe Biden visited Detroit on Feb. 1 to attend an event with members of the United Auto Workers union. The UAW endorsed Biden in the 2020 election and recently announced its support for his 2024 reelection campaign.
“Wall Street didn’t build the middle class; labor built the middle class, and the middle class built the country. And when labor does well, everybody does well,” Biden said. “We now have, in large part because of you and organized labor, the strongest economy in the whole damn world.”
Biden backed the union in 2023 when the organization launched a strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler). Biden visited Michigan in September 2023 and stood on a picket line with striking workers, becoming the first modern president to do so. The strikes ended after management agreed to several union demands, including increased wages for workers.
“Joe Biden bet on the American worker and Trump blamed the American worker. We need to know who’s going to sit in the most powerful seat in the world and help us win as a united working class. So, if our endorsements must be earned, Joe Biden has earned it,” UAW president Shawn Fain said in a Jan. 24 speech.
Fain appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Jan. 28 and was asked why the union had chosen to back Biden over former President Donald Trump.
“I can’t fathom any union would support Donald Trump for president,” Fain explained, citing several instances in which Trump had held anti-union positions.
Campaigning for the Republican nomination for president in 2015, Trump said auto manufacturers should move jobs out of Michigan to cut their costs.
“You can go to different parts of the United States and then ultimately you’d do full-circle — you’ll come back to Michigan because those guys are going to want their jobs back even if it is less,” he told the Detroit News.
Fain noted that when the UAW went on strike in 2019 against GM, Trump declined to back the union.
In response to the interview, Trump wrote on his Truth Social account: “Get rid of this dope & vote for DJT. I will bring the Automobile Industry back to our Country.”
During his time in office, Trump was frequently criticized by labor unions for engaging in anti-union practices, appointing judges inclined to back “right-to-work” laws that prohibit requiring that workers pay dues to unions that represent them and side with management in their rulings.
In 2023, the administration instituted a federal rule that requires the use of so-called project labor agreements, which require negotiations among contractors, subcontractors and unions to set the terms governing a project for large-scale federally funded construction projects. The White House said that such agreements would promote efficiency and “provide nearly 200,000 workers on Federal construction projects the benefit of collectively bargained wages, benefits, and safety protections regardless of union membership.”
“The rule will empower workers as the President’s agenda rebuilds America’s infrastructure—a key pillar of Bidenomics,” the White House said.