Former President Trump spoke Wednesday evening at a campaign rally in Clinton Township, Michigan, just outside Detroit, at a non-union auto supplier factory amid the nearly two-week-long United Auto Workers strike.
“My pledge to every automaker is this, a vote for President Trump means the future of the automobile will be made in America where it should be,” Trump said, receiving cheers from his audience.
Trump attended rally for his 2024 reelection campaign was in lieu of taking part in the second Republican Presidential debate Wednesday night with seven other GOP hopefuls, whom the former President is leading substantially in the polls by double digits.
The Trump rally took place one day after President Biden became the first sitting President to join striking union workers on the picket line, telling UAW members in Wayne, Michigan that they deserved to share in the profits enjoyed by the Big Three automakers’ executives.
UAW president Shawn Fain blasted Trump ahead of his visit to the non-union shop, saying in an interview with CNN Tuesday, “I find a pathetic irony that the former President is going to hold a rally for union members at a non-union business.”
Even so, Fain has not endorsed Biden in his own reelection bid, though the union boss did thank the President “for coming to stand up with us in our generation’s defining moment,” adding that “we know the President will do right by the working class.”
Trump at his rally attempted to link government funding for Ukraine in its war against Russia to what companies pay autoworkers, saying, “If we can afford to send hundreds of billions of dollars to Ukraine, then we can afford to have an auto industry that pays our workers a good living wage.”
The UAW’s strike began at midnight September 15 when contract agreements to cover the union’s 145,000 members could not be reached, leading to the first-ever nationwide UAW strike being called simultaneously at all of the Big Three automakers in Detroit.
The first wave of the walkout included some 13,000 UAW members at three plants: General Motors in Wentzville, Missouri; Ford in Wayne, Michigan; and Stellanits in Toledo, Ohio. But this past Friday Fain extended to walkout to include union members at 38 parts distribution facilities across 20 states at GM and Stellantis plants—though not at Ford facilities.
During a livestream event Friday, Fain said Ford had come to the table over sticking points like profit-sharing and pay-tier structures and temporary employees, and thus was exempt from the extended walkouts, though both the UAW president and Ford have conceded they still have a number of issues to hammer out.
On Wednesday, Fain again threatened to expand the strike beyond its current 18,300 workers if the UAW cannot make significant progress in negotiations with the Big Three by 10am ET Friday.
As he did a week earlier, Fain is expected to host a Facebook Live event to announce which plants will walk out at noon Eastern on Friday, barring progress in the talks.
The Big Three have proposed roughly 20% raises over the four-and-a-half year term of their proposed deals, though that is only half of what the UAW is demanding. The UAW at one point during the talks offered to lower its demand to 36%.
The UAW is also asking for shorter work weeks, restored pensions and stronger job security as automakers make the shift to electric vehicles.