The strikes by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union against General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis have caught the attention of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. This week, both presidential contenders made their way to Michigan to visit picket lines and show support for the striking autoworkers. With the 2024 presidential election just over a year away, both candidates are vying for the crucial support of blue-collar voters. This article will delve into the significance of these visits and analyze how each candidate is trying to win over this crucial voting bloc.
President Joe Biden made his way to a GM parts facility in Belleville, Michigan, following an invitation from UAW President Shawn Fain. Fain, however, has been withholding the union’s re-endorsement of President Biden, despite his claims of being the “most pro-union president in American history.” On the other hand, former President Donald Trump, who is currently the frontrunner among Republicans for the 2024 presidential race, held a rally at an auto supplier in Clinton Township, Michigan. It is interesting to note that both candidates are effectively tied in the polls, emphasizing the importance of winning over blue-collar voters.
While the UAW has historically supported Democratic candidates, including Biden in the 2020 election, Fain has aligned himself with Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran against Biden in the primary. Fain has echoed Sanders’ messages of fighting “corporate greed” and positioning the UAW’s collective bargaining as a “war” between the billionaire and blue-collar classes. The support of the UAW and union members in general is crucial in the battleground state of Michigan, where both Biden and Trump emerged victorious in the past two presidential elections.
Michigan carries significant electoral weight, and both Biden and Trump recognize this. With the realization that elections can be very close, both candidates are making frequent appearances in the state. The UAW strike provides a high-publicity moment for them to deploy their messages and be seen by the voters. Democrats like Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell have attended UAW rallies, while Fain invited Biden to join the picket lines. Trump, meanwhile, has won support from many rank-and-file union members, with his anti-establishment message resonating among this demographic.
President Biden’s visit to the picket line can be seen as an attempt to win back the support of the UAW and ultimately secure the union’s endorsement. Fain has repeatedly stated that Biden needs to prove his claim of being the “most pro-union president.” While the UAW issued a largely generic press release ahead of Biden’s visit, Fain himself did not officially endorse the President for the upcoming election. Biden’s visit can be seen as an olive branch, an opportunity to address the UAW’s concerns and potentially gain their support.
Trump’s Appeal to Blue-Collar Workers
Former President Trump has been gaining support among blue-collar workers, even as Biden’s popularity among union members starts to wane. Trump’s rhetoric and policy positions align closely with the concerns of union members, particularly when it comes to the shift towards electric vehicles (EVs). Many union members worry about job losses due to the fewer number of employees required in the production of EVs. Trump’s rally in Michigan will likely center around this issue, as he appeals to the rank-and-file UAW members who are concerned about their livelihoods.
The visits by both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump to the UAW picket lines in Michigan highlight the battle for blue-collar votes leading up to the 2024 presidential election. Each candidate is trying to win over the crucial support of union members in this battleground state. Biden’s visit seeks to regain the UAW’s endorsement, while Trump aims to solidify his support among rank-and-file UAW members. As these visits unfold and negotiations continue, the outcome of the UAW strikes and the support of blue-collar voters in Michigan could significantly impact the trajectory of both candidates’ presidential campaigns.