Sep 27, 2023 - News

Biden makes history with striking UAW

President Joe Biden addresses striking UAW members at a picket line outside a General Motors parts facility in Belleville yesterday.

President Biden addresses striking UAW members at a picket line outside a General Motors parts facility in Belleville. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden joined striking auto workers outside a General Motors parts facility in Belleville Tuesday, marking the first time a sitting president has ever visited a picket line.

Why it matters: The pro-union Democrat stood for the thousands of UAW members leading an unprecedented strike of the Detroit Three automakers.

  • Biden responded "yes" when asked if they deserve a 40% raise, the Detroit News reports.
  • Big pay increases are central to UAW demands that automakers have rejected as untenable.

Driving the news: Biden, flanked by UAW President Shawn Fain, told workers they deserve more pay than they are receiving, along with other benefits being advocated for by union negotiators, Axios' April Rubin reports.

What they're saying: "You guys, the UAW, you saved the automobile industry back in 2008 and before," Biden said. "The companies were in trouble, but now they're doing incredibly well. And guess what, you should be doing incredibly well, too."

  • "Wall Street didn't build the country," Biden said. "The middle class built the country."

State of play: The president joined workers near GM's Willow Run parts center — a property that previously housed a 5 million-square-foot plant that built transmissions and is now a shell of its former self.

  • The transmission factory was shuttered in 2010 in the wake of GM's bankruptcy and later razed, leaving the parts distribution facility as the much smaller surviving operation.

The intrigue: Mayor Mike Duggan, a frequent Biden ally, was out of town Tuesday and not on hand for the presidential visit, city spokesperson John Roach tells Axios.

  • Other local elected officials — Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) — joined Fain to welcome Biden after he landed at Detroit Metro Airport, according to the News.

What's next: Former President Trump plans to speak Wednesday at 8pm at auto supplier Drake Automotive in Clinton Township.

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