Biden joins auto workers on picket line in Michigan

President Biden held a bullhorn with striking auto workers in Michigan on Tuesday, becoming the first sitting president to go on strike, showing an unusual show of support for workers demanding better wages.

Car companies are doing well, Mr. Biden said.

“Guess what? You should also do well,” said Mr. He punched several members of the United Auto Workers union.

You’ve heard me say many times, “Wall Street didn’t build this country.” “The middle class built this country. And unions created the middle class. Let’s continue. What you deserve, what you earned, you earned a hell of a lot more than you’re getting now.

The president’s 15-minute visit under gray skies, with classic-rock songs by John Mellencamp and Aerosmith playing in the background, came at the invitation of UAW President Sean Fine, Mr. .

Blaming the executive and billionaire class, Mr. Before turning the bullhorn to Fine, Mr. Biden spoke for only two minutes.

“They think they own the world,” said Mr. Fine said. “But we’re running it.”

General Motors did its best to ignore the president’s visit, saying in a statement, “Our focus is not on politics, but on continuing to negotiate in good faith with UAW leadership. Allowing GM to succeed and thrive in the future.”

The company added that “no one will win” from the strike.

Mr. Biden’s arrival seemed like a capstone for a politician who had positioned himself as a champion of the middle class for decades, but other political forces were also at play. He joined Labor a day ahead of his predecessor and 2024 rival.

With the UAW backing him in 2020, Mr. For Biden to score points, Mr. The White House is betting that this will be enough to resist Trump’s visit. Electric vehicles.

Mr. Biden and Mr. This is the first time this campaign season that Trump is competing in real time for a powerful group of working-class voters whose political styles are as diverse as their visions for the country.

In one corner, Mr. Biden has argued that his clean energy agenda — including a shift toward electric vehicles — will create new manufacturing jobs.

In another, Mr. Trump has expressed growing frustration among workers who fear for the future of their jobs. “Remember, he wants to take your jobs and give them to China and other foreign countries.” Mr. Trump took to social media on Monday to criticize Mr. He wrote of Biden, “I will keep your jobs and make you rich!!!

Officials have, of course, jumped on board with both campaigns.

“No self-serving photo of Trump abandoning union workers for four years and standing with his staunch friends can erase it,” Ammar Moussa, a spokesman for Mr Biden’s campaign, said in a statement.

Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Mr Trump, said the president’s visit showed he was on the defensive.

“It underscores how dangerous Biden’s political position is: a state that you believe the Democrats are safely blue, he has to talk to a constituency that you believe the Democrats are safely in their camp,” Mr. Miller said in an interview. .

At the White House, Mr. Biden’s advisers have insisted that his visit has little to do with that of his predecessors, although Mr. Mr. Biden’s look. They say that would be in stark contrast to Trump’s planned visit to Drake Enterprises, a non-union plant. in Macomb County.

Michigan is considered a key state for Democrats in 2024. It was in 2016 that Mr. Despite being one of Trump’s most surprising victories, Mr.

A public critic of the former president’s Michigan travel plans, Mr. Mr. to meet Fine. Trump has no plan: “We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires who don’t know how to get a paycheck. “We expect them to solve the problems of the working class to get paid and to fight,” said Mr. Fine said.

However, many workers in his union rejected the Biden administration’s proposal for the nation’s most ambitious climate regulations, which would ensure that two-thirds of new passenger cars would be electric by 2032, up from 5.8 percent today.

Presidents are generally expected to be neutral arbiters between striking workers and the companies they work for, and many modern presidents have struggled to find a middle ground.

The United Auto Workers began a strike on September 15.debt…Brittany Greason for The New York Times

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers, undermining the union effort by arguing that federal workers had violated their employment pledge not to strike against the government. The decision shocked the labor movement for decades and led Democratic leaders to talk delicately about the power of unions.

Mr. Biden stood firm.

Since the strike began on September 15, Mr. Biden is calling on companies and workers.

Having come of age in an era of strong unions, Mr. Historians said Biden is taking Democrats back to their roots.

“Recent Democrats have slipped a little bit,” said Ileen A. DeVault, a professor of labor history at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, “but I think Biden is really pro-union and pro-labor. Trying to improve working conditions for workers in America.”

Mr. She doesn’t see that with Trump. “I don’t see any evidence that he has done anything to help unions in this country,” he said, “let alone help ordinary people.”

The trip to Michigan began with Mr. Trump holding a summit with Pacific Island leaders on Monday before embarking on a three-day sprint across the country, starting in Wayne County, which includes Detroit. Part of Biden’s week.

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden was scheduled to travel to San Francisco, where he will host a campaign reception. On Wednesday, he will hold a meeting with advisers who will formulate recommendations on science, technology and innovation policy.

On Thursday, he is scheduled to deliver remarks focused on the state of democracy in Arizona, a Republican presidential debate and Mr. It is expected to be a tacit rebuttal to Trump’s campaign activities. He will also honor the legacy of Arizona’s longtime Republican senator, John McCain, who died in 2018 and who Mr.

Before going on strike in Michigan, Mr. Biden asked.

“I don’t care about that,” he replied.

Jack Ewing Contributed report.

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