Michigan Democrats urge Biden to beat Trump on UAW picket line – The Washington Post

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President Biden is under increasing pressure from some Democratic lawmakers to do something none of his predecessors appear to have done while in office: join strikers on a picket line.

As the United Auto Workers strikes against the nation’s three largest automakers, many Democrats in Michigan and across the country have expressed concern about Biden’s likely rival in next year’s election, former President Donald Trump, who is trying to court union voters and weaken a crucial Democratic Party. constituency by carrying out his own visit to a strike site.

Trump plans a rally in Detroit next week with union workers, including auto workers, during the upcoming GOP primary debate, although it is unclear whether he will also visit the party line. picketing, according to a person familiar with campaign planning, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the plans.

Why UAW Workers Say They’re on Strike

Democrats want Biden to highlight party differences on labor issues.

“It would send a very strong message that Democrats stand up for working people — I really think Biden should run, and run soon,” said Michigan state Rep. Mike McFall, a first-term Democrat whose district includes part of Detroit. “I’m very worried about Trump coming in and what that would mean for our party in November.”

Biden applauded the UAW’s targeted strike against Detroit’s Big Three automakers and on Friday called on General Motors, Ford and Stellantis to improve their wage proposals to the union. The president’s aides say he has already gone beyond supporting unions through numerous executive orders and laws aimed at improving outcomes for workers. And yet the union action has posed a political headache for the president, who must determine how far to go to stand with UAW workers.

The White House declined to comment when asked whether Biden was 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. The UAW leadership has also indicated to the White House that a presidential visit would be welcome, although it has not sent a formal invitation, according to two people with knowledge of internal discussions and a UAW official. ‘UAW, all three of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. to describe private conversations.

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

As Biden supports striking auto workers, Trump attacks union leader

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

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who co-wrote an opinion piece with UAW President Shawn Fain on the strike and joined strikers Monday in Michigan and Ohio, said in a statement: “It would be great for President Biden to go too, 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 past statements supporting the union. Biden said Friday that automakers “should go further to ensure that record corporate profits mean record contracts,” echoing the UAW’s comments. Biden appointed staunch labor allies to the National Labor Relations Board and the federal court system, and provisions of a 2021 law backed by Biden gave workers greater bargaining power and intensified unionizing efforts at nationally.

“There is no doubt that the president supports UAW workers,” Patterson said via email. “His statement on Friday made that clear.”

Still, Trump’s visit to woo blue-collar workers could complicate the White House’s political calculus. The former president has eroded worker support for Democrats in the Rust Belt and may attempt to make further gains before the 2024 election. Trump’s planned trip to Detroit was first reported by The New York Times on Monday.

On the political front, experts agree there is no doubt that Biden has done much more to support unions. Trump adopted many policies hated by unions, weakened the NLRB and approved legislation focused on corporate tax cuts. And Trump publicly feuded with Fain, ridiculing the union leader and urging union members not to pay their dues. In an interview with NBC News that aired Sunday on “Meet the Press,” Trump said auto workers were being “sold down the line by their leaders, and their leaders should support Trump,” a sentiment he reiterated in an article on Truth Social, the social media network he owns.

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Some Michigan Democrats have expressed concern that Trump might go to a picket line before Biden.

“It would give Trump significant media coverage and free media. We don’t need it,” said state Rep. Donavan McKinney, who called the prospect “terrible.”

“President Biden can take back the rhetoric and show that the administration, and Democrats as a whole, support their largest base, which is unions and the working class,” McKinney said. “That says a lot… What can we do to get Biden here?

State Rep. Jason Morgan added: “I would love to see Biden visit the picket line here in Michigan…Our unions have tremendous support today, and there is no reason not to join our workers to demand better wages and better working conditions. »

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

“Voters are very supportive of the ongoing strike and unionization — they really agree with the basic principle that CEOs are hoarding 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 rush.

James Blanchard, who served as Michigan’s Democratic governor from 1983 to 1991, said Biden had made his position on the UAW strike “very clear” and that respecting the picket line could set a precedent in which the president should walk a lot more. .

“I’m not sure the president should organize a picket: you start one and you have to do the others. He weighed very heavily in favor of UAW workers,” Blanchard said.

As UAW strike looms, Biden faces ‘win-win’ test

Some conservatives also balked at the idea of ​​the president so visibly taking sides. Traditionally, presidents have sought to act as a neutral mediator when 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 in a private conflict, and that’s not usually done because we have a vision for fairness in the country and you’re not putting your thumb on the scale ” said Doug. Holtz-Eakin, GOP political analyst. “The border is so crossed that people have lost sight of the borders. I think that’s really wrong.

Still, some workers said they would welcome Biden.

Sharifia Fambro, 52, a striker at the Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, who earns $19.10 an hour, said she hopes Biden will show up at the picket line to “show solidarity with the UAW.” Fambro, who installs signs on Bronco vehicles, added that she thought it would help elevate workers’ cause if the president “showed he knows what we’re going through.”

Lauren Kaori Gurley contributed to this report.

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