United States President Joe Biden flew to Detroit on Tuesday where he joined members of the striking United Auto Workers , UAW, union on the picket line. The visit is thought to have been the first time a US president has ever joined striking workers.
Biden said Detroit's Big Three automakers — GM, Ford and Stellantis (owners of Chrysler) — should give workers the 40% pay raise they are demanding, saying they deserve, a lot more.
It is the 12th day of the strike and Biden has been especially vocal in his support for the UAW cause. Biden said workers deserved to share in the record profits being hauled in by the Big Three, now that the industry is roaring back.
He was enthusiastic in his interaction with workers, exchanging fist bumps and telling them, stick with it. When asked if he backed UAW demands for a 40% wage increase, Biden said, Yes.
You deserve the significant raise you need, Biden told workers as he stepped atop a makeshift podium wearing a UAW cap and holding a megaphone with an American flag on it.
Companies were in trouble, he said, now they're doing incredibly well. And guess what? You should be doing incredibly well, too.
UAW President Shawn Fain accompanied Biden to the event, which took place at a GM parts distribution facility in Belleville, west of Detroit.
Fain, who compared CEOs to workers, said, They make decisions, we make the product.
Welcoming Biden, Fain described the situation as generation-defining and said workers were in a kind of war against corporate greed.
Speaking at the White House before traveling to Detroit, Biden said: I think the UAW gave up an incredible amount back when the automobile industry was going under. They gave everything from their pensions on, and they saved the automobile industry.
UAW workers began their walkout with targeted strikes nearly two weeks ago. Their demands include raises that mirror CEO pay raises, shorter work weeks and job security in the face of electric vehicle production.
Biden's appearance in Michigan, a hotly-contested swing state, comes just one day before his likely challenger in next year's presidential election, Donald Trump, travels to the state in an attempt to win the votes of disgruntled workers.
Billionaire Trump presented himself as a friend of the working man and sought to paint Biden as their enemy, saying the president stabbed auto workers in the back with his push for electric vehicle manufacturing. Trump claimed Biden's Green New Deal would annihilate the industry and the jobs it supplies.
Trump, who made inroads with unions in 2016 and lost Michigan to Biden by 154.000 votes,, will speak at a non-union parts manufacturer northeast of Detroit Wednesday evening rather than debating Republican challengers for his party's nomination.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One Tuesday, Biden is fighting to ensure that the cars of the future will be built in America by unionized American workers in good-paying jobs, instead of being built in China.
UAW President Fain told strikers Tuesday, We know the president will do right by the working class. Biden, who has regularly advocated for unions and the right of workers to organize, has union support at a time when organized labor itself is enjoying 67% approval from Americans.