Endorse me or you won’t have a union

Former President Donald Trump told United Auto Workers leaders Wednesday that they would not have a union if they fail to endorse him in the 2024 presidential election.

“They have to endorse Trump, because if they don’t, all they’re doing is committing suicide,” Trump said.

UAW President Shawn Fain criticized Trump’s Wednesday night visit to Drake Enterprises, a non-union automotive parts manufacturer in Clinton Township, which the former president scheduled to counterprogram the second 2024 Republican presidential debate.



Trump, who is facing 91 state and federal felony charges in four jurisdictions,  repeatedly attacked Fain throughout his remarks, even as he also claimed to support the striking UAW members. It was unclear how many striking workers were at the event.

UAW president says Trump visit to non-union Michigan company is a ‘pathetic irony’

“Shawn, endorse Trump and you can take a nice two month vacation, come back, and you guys are going to be better than you ever were,” Trump said. “The other way, you won’t have a vacation, Shawn. And in a short period of time, you’re not going to have a union. You’re not going to have jobs. You’re not going to have anything.”

The UAW has not endorsed in the 2024 presidential election. Michigan is, once again, expected to be a key swing state next year.

Fain did invite President Joe Biden, who defeated Trump in the 2020 election, to a picket line in Wayne County on Tuesday. Fain declined to meet with Trump.

“I don’t think the man [Trump] has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for,” Fain said on CNN. “He serves the billionaire class and that’s what’s wrong with this country.”

The union has been on strike since Sept. 15 in the first time it has declared a strike against all three domestic automakers, with three sites targeted at first: Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, GM’s Wentzville plant in Missouri and Stellantis’ Jeep plant in Toledo.

Last week, the union began striking an additional 38 GM and Stellantis sites in 20 states, sparing Ford from the new batch of strikes because there had been meaningful progress in negotiations.

Fain said Wednesday that he will make an announcement Friday about the status of the strike.

The union is fighting for increased wages, a 32-hour work week and better pension benefits, among other issues such as an end to tiered compensation between workers with different lengths of service.

Fain joined Biden on Tuesday as he made a brief visit to a picket line in Belleville in what is thought to be the first time in at least a century that a sitting president has visited an active strike site.

Asked by a reporter whether UAW members deserve the 40% raise they are negotiating for, Biden responded, “Yes! Yes, I think they should be able to bargain for that.”

President Joe Biden arrives in Detroit on Sept. 26, 2023, to visit striking United Auto Workers members on the picket line in Wayne County. Biden was greeted on the tarmac by UAW President Shawn Fain, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, and U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor), Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit). Photo by Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance

Trump told the striking workers that “I support you and your goal of fair wages and greater stability, and I truly hope you get a fair deal for yourselves and your families” but argued that “it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference” what concessions the workers are able to win because he predicted that in two to three years “the entire car industry will be packed up and shipped to China” as electric vehicles become more widely adopted.

Trump called the transition to electric vehicles “a transition to hell” and argued that “American labor will be under siege.”

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) previously said during a visit to a picket line with U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) that electric vehicle production needs to be a focus of negotiations.

“Certainly a big part of this negotiation is to make sure as we make the transition to EVs that we have union workers making those vehicles in the battery plants and throughout the supply chain. There’s no reason why they need to be separate,” Peters said. “You can build world class EVs as long as you have union workers building them. That’s how you get world class workers.”

Ford announced earlier this week that it was pausing construction of a $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Marshall that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has touted as a key piece of her economic recovery agenda.

“Closing 65 plants over the last 20 years wasn’t enough for the Big Three, now they want to threaten us with closing plants that aren’t even open yet,” Fain said. “We are simply asking for a just transition to electric vehicles and Ford is instead doubling down on their race to the bottom.”

This article was originally published by the Michigan Advance, a sister publication of Arizona Mirror and a member of the States Newsroom network of local newsrooms.

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