Auto Union President Snubs Trump’s Plan to Rally With Striking UAW Members During 2nd GOP Debate

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
September 27, 2023Donald Trump
Auto Union President Snubs Trump’s Plan to Rally With Striking UAW Members During 2nd GOP Debate
UAW president Shawn Fain joins union members picketing outside the Stellantis Parts Distribution Center in Center Line, Mich., after they walked off their jobs at noon on Sept. 22, 2023. (Matthew Hatcher/AFP via Getty Images)

The president of the United Auto Workers (UAW) has snubbed former President Donald Trump ahead of the Republican 2024 presidential candidate’s plans to meet with striking union workers on Wednesday.

In a Tuesday interview with CNN, UAW president Shawn Fain indicated he has no plans to meet with the former president, who has decided to skip the second Republican presidential debate on Wednesday and to instead hold a rally with UAW members in Michigan. Mr. Fain made his comments just hours after appearing on a picket line alongside President Joe Biden.

“I see no point in meeting with [President Trump] because I don’t think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for,” Mr. Fain told CNN on Tuesday.

Mr. Fain went on to say that he believes President Trump “serves the billionaire class, and that’s what’s wrong with this country.”

The union boss’s comments may stymie President Trump’s plans for counterprogramming the second Republican presidential debate.

Biden, Trump Competing for Union Voters

President Biden appears to be competing for union voter support with his 2020 and potential 2024 opponent, President Trump.

Union workers have traditionally proved to be a reliable constituency for Democrats, but President Trump made inroads with the demographic in 2016. Democratic 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won union voters by eight points in 2016, scoring a 20-year low in union support for a Democratic presidential candidate. President Biden, in contrast, managed to garner a 17-point lead over President Trump among union voters in 2020.

UAW workers first started striking on Sept. 15, calling for increased wages and benefits. By Sept. 18, reports had come in that President Trump would rally with UAW workers instead of attending the second debate. By Sept. 22, President Biden announced his own plans to join the picket line—just one day ahead of his Republican rival’s own meeting with UAW workers.

In a Sept. 25 post on his Truth social media account, President Trump argued that the Biden team had decided to send the sitting U.S. president to the picket line only after they “saw that I was going to Michigan.”

While Mr. Fain has been more welcoming of President Biden’s meeting with UAW workers, he told CNN on Tuesday that he hadn’t yet decided to endorse the Democrat.

While President Trump’s Michigan visit may be a play to shift union voters away from Democrats, Mr. Fain accused the former president of positioning himself against the UAW’s interests in the past.

“His track record speaks for itself,” Mr. Fain told CNN. “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.

“In 2015, when he was running for president, he talked about doing a rotation, taking all these good-paying jobs in the Midwest and moving them somewhere in the south, where people work for less money, and then to make people beg for their jobs back at lower wages,” Mr. Fain said.

“And the ultimate show of how much he cares about our workers was in 2019, when he was the president of the United States. Where was he then? Our workers at GM were on strike for 60 days. For two months, they were out there on the picket lines. I didn’t see him hold a rally. I didn’t see him stand up at the picket line.”

Trump Casts Biden’s Electric Vehicle Push as Bad for Union Workers

President Trump has repeatedly argued that the Biden administration’s efforts to promote the wider adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) will see automobile production outsourced to other countries like China—to the detriment of U.S. autoworkers.

In a Sept. 4 post on his Truth social media account, days before UAW workers began striking, President Trump appealed to Mr. Fain to oppose the Biden administration’s EV push and instead “vote for Trump.”

In an Aug. 31 press statement, Mr. Fain said, “The UAW supports and is ready for the transition to a clean auto industry. But the EV transition must be a just transition that ensures auto workers have a place in the new economy.”

In his comments to CNN on Tuesday night, Mr. Fain said that the Biden administration’s push for more EVs won’t necessarily harm his union’s interests so long as there’s a “just transition.”

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