On September 26, President Joe Biden will fly to Michigan and join United Auto Workers union members on the picket line. The trip comes after the president faced political pressure to increase public support for union members.
“I’ll travel to Michigan to join the picket line and show my support for the UAW members as they struggle to receive a fair portion of the value they contributed to creating. It’s time for a deal that benefits both parties and maintains the viability of UAW employment in American auto production,” wrote Biden in a post to X.
As the strike against the three largest manufacturers in the country enters its second week, Biden’s visit and the historic presidential appearance on a picket line underscore a political opportunity. Although Biden has frequently emphasized that he is the most pro-labor president, the UAW has not yet endorsed his reelection campaign due to poor polling ratings over his handling of economic issues.
Presidents, including Biden, have previously refrained from interfering in labor conflicts to avoid appearing to take a position on topics where the negotiating parties are frequently involved in court proceedings. The United Auto Workers have filed nearly 30 cases with the National Labor Relations Board, whose members are chosen by the president but are meant to operate as an independent body.
Fain was outspoken in his criticism of Biden earlier this year, particularly for his administration’s financial support of the auto industry’s transition from conventional gasoline-powered cars to electric vehicles, which the UAW views as a danger to its members’ jobs.
The union president has been far less critical of the president in public comments since Fain and Biden met in person at the White House in July. Throughout the union’s ongoing negotiations with the automakers, Biden has repeated many of the union’s arguments.