Updated Sep 19, 2023 - Economy

UAW president criticizes Trump ahead of Detroit speech

Shawn Fain speaks to the crowd during a UAW rally in Detroit, Michigan, on Sept. 15. Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain criticized former President Trump on Tuesday and advised auto workers to reject his attempts at winning them over.

The big picture: The move comes as Republican presidential front-runner Trump is expected to visit Detroit next week to deliver a speech to striking union workers instead of appearing at the GOP primary debate.

Driving the news: "Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers," Fain said in a statement to CNN.

  • "We can't keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don't have any understanding what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class," he added.

Between the lines: Michigan is a key swing state, which Trump won in 2016 only to be defeated by Biden in 2020.

  • The UAW has yet to endorse Biden for re-election after backing him in 2020. Fain said Biden has to earn the powerful union's endorsement, and that its members expect "action, not words."
  • Biden, who describes himself as the "most pro-union president" ever, urged the U.S. automakers last week to share more of their profits with striking union workers to bring a quick end to the historic labor walkout.

Zoom out: FiveThirtyEight analysis shows polls published this month indicate a close race if Biden and Trump were to face off against each other in 2024 — with Biden narrowly leading in some surveys, Trump having the edge in others, or the two being tied in a dead heat.

What they're saying: "President Trump is on the side of American workers and always will be," a Trump campaign spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Tuesday night.

  • The spokesperson did not address Fain's criticism of the former president, but said that Biden and the Democrats had taken auto workers "for granted and that's why President Trump is ahead in the polls."
  • The UAW and representatives for Biden did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from a Trump campaign spokesperson and further context.

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