Former president and current GOP candidate Donald Trump plans to address United Auto Workers members in lieu of joining his fellow Republican candidates at the upcoming primary debate on September 27.
The news, which appeared first in the New York Times, comes as the United Auto Workers union threatens to expand its strike against Detroit automakers if they fail to budge on demands in the coming days. Campaign aides confirmed that the former president will skip the debate to speak before UAW members and may even join striking employees on the picket lines, although an adviser called the latter appearance “unlikely” due to security challenges. This will be the second Republican primary debate the GOP candidate has eschewed in favor of other appearances; during his last absence, Trump instead attended an interview broadcast on X, formerly known as Twitter, with ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
While it is uncertain what topics the former president will address during the meeting, he may face an uphill battle if he hopes to secure votes from his audience. Since union members elected United Auto Workers chief Shawn Fain earlier this year, the relationship between the historically left-leaning organization and the GOP candidate has mainly been one of antagonism. In May, Fain pointedly expressed his sentiments toward the former president in a letter to union members by noting that a second Trump term “would be a disaster.” Months later, in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the GOP candidate admitted that he did not personally know Fain but criticized the UAW leader for his handling of negotiations with Detroit automakers. “He’s not doing a good job in representing his union because he’s not going to have a union in three years from now,” he argued. “Those jobs are all going to be gone because all of those electric cars are going to be made in China.”
Despite these exchanges with Trump, the United Auto Workers organization has also declined to endorse President Biden in his re-election bid until the administration shows more concrete support for labor unions. “Our endorsements are going to be earned,” spoke Fain during a recent “Face the Nation” appearance on CBS. “We expect actions not words.”