Updated Sep 22, 2023 - Economy

Biden to join UAW strike and picket with auto workers

Elijah Escudero, 17, left, and his brother Ethan, 15, hold picket signs in front of the Stellantis Plant where their father "walked off" the job Friday morning in solidarity with the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike in Ontario, California. Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

President Biden said he'll picket alongside the United Auto Workers in Michigan next week — in a rare act of a president visibly joining a labor movement.

Why it matters: Nearly 19,000 workers are on strike as the UAW demands higher wages and benefits in its expanded strike against the Detroit Three automakers: General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.

Driving the news: "Tuesday, I'll go to Michigan to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create," Biden said Friday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

  • "It's time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs," he said.

The announcement came hours after UAW President Shawn Fain invited Biden to join the picket line as the union campaigns for "record contracts."

  • The UAW also Friday expanded the strike after failing to reach a deal one week into the work stoppage.
  • Fain said the union had made "real" progress at Ford, where it won't expand the strike, but said Stellantis and GM "are going to need some serious pushing."

Between the lines: Biden, who has previously called himself the "most pro-union president ever," had urged U.S. automakers last week to share more of their "record profits" with the workers on strike.

  • Biden's visit is set for the day before former President Trump is expected to appear in Michigan instead of attending the second GOP primary debate.

Zoom out: Given the historic nature of Biden's upcoming trip, there is "little to no precedent" for this type of event, per the New York Times.

  • "This president takes seriously his role as the most pro-union president in history," former top labor policy adviser Seth Harris told the Times.
  • "Sometimes that means breaking precedent," he added.

Go deeper: UAW boss Shawn Fain's union tactics, explained

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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