Presidential Candidates Make Their Pitch to Michigan Autoworkers on Strike

The ongoing strikes by United Auto Workers (UAW) against General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis have caught the attention of presidential candidates as they vie for the support of blue-collar voters in Michigan. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have both made appearances in the state this week, hoping to win over the 18,300 autoworkers currently on strike. While Michigan voters have been pivotal in past elections, the UAW’s withholding of its re-endorsement of President Biden and the increasing support for Trump among union members have created a highly competitive race for these crucial votes.

Both President Biden and President Trump understand the importance of Michigan electorally and are eager to be seen as supportive of the UAW strikes. The UAW strike provides a high-publicity moment for these candidates to deploy their messages and appeal to blue-collar workers. While the UAW has historically supported Democrats, UAW President Shawn Fain has not fully endorsed Biden and has even appeared alongside Senator Bernie Sanders, who ran against Biden in 2020. Fain has positioned the UAW’s collective bargaining as a “war” between the billionaire and blue-collar classes, echoing Sanders’ message of fighting corporate greed.

President Biden’s visit to the picket line at a GM parts facility in Belleville is seen as a historic moment for the UAW. Fain thanked the president for his support and expressed confidence in his commitment to the working class. However, Fain has been critical of Biden, urging him to prove his claim of being the “most pro-union president.” Trump, on the other hand, has gained support from many rank-and-file union members. Supporters appreciate Trump’s business acumen and his perceived understanding of negotiation and industry dynamics.

Recent polls show an increase in support for Trump among union members, while Biden’s popularity has faltered. Union members have concerns about the push towards electric vehicles (EVs) and the potential impact on job security. Trump’s stance on the forced transition to EVs aligns with the concerns of many UAW members, who fear job losses as a result of this shift. Electric vehicles are expected to require less labor and parts compared to traditional vehicles, which could lead to workforce reductions. Trump’s rhetoric on these issues resonates with the UAW rank-and-file.

The UAW’s concerns about the auto industry’s transition to all-electric vehicles have led to a withholding of an endorsement for Biden’s re-election. Fain has stated that the union will only provide its endorsement once these concerns are addressed. Biden’s visit to the picket line may be seen as an olive branch to mend the relationship between the UAW and the Biden administration. It could also serve as leverage for the union in ongoing negotiations with the Detroit automakers.

The battle for blue-collar voters in Michigan is intensifying as the strikes continue. Both Biden and Trump recognize the significance of these voters in winning elections. Their visits to the picket lines are strategic moves aimed at capturing the attention and support of the UAW members. With Michigan playing a crucial role in past elections, the outcome of this race could have a significant impact on the 2024 presidential campaign.

The strikes by the UAW have turned the spotlight onto Michigan and its blue-collar voters. President Biden and former President Trump are actively courting the support of autoworkers as they navigate a complex political landscape. The outcome of this battle could shape the future of the UAW’s relationship with the presidency and have lasting implications for the candidates’ electoral prospects.


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