U.S. President Joe Biden will join motor strikers in Michigan on Tuesday, a day before the former president and his potential rival for the White House, Donald Trump. Eleven days after the strike of workers against the three major automotive brands of the United States, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, began, the president will join a group of protesters from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, in a visit branded as electoralist that will surely increase pressure on the Big Three of Detroit.
"On Tuesday I will go to Michigan to join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of the UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create," Biden said Friday in a post on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter. "It's time for a win-win deal that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with good-paying jobs at the UAW."
The union strike initially affected some 13,000 workers out of a total of 146,000 members, with three factories paralyzed in three different parts of the country, one of each brand. Last Friday, union president Shawn Fain made good on his threat to step up pressure if there was no significant progress in the negotiation. There are now 18,600 members on strike and 41 different plants affected.
Of course, Fain clarified that only General Motors and Stellantis have been harmed by the new measures since negotiations with Ford are on track, after they have agreed to restore adjustments for increases in the cost of living, better benefits in case of layoffs and the immediate conversion of all temporary workers.
From the UAW they demanded from the beginning a salary increase of 40% for the next four years after the expiration of the last collective agreement. Fain has argued that it is in line with the increases that the three CEOs of the corporations have allowed themselves in their payrolls. However, they have indicated that they are flexible and that they could go down to 36%, still far from the 20% they have been offered from the Big Three.
This is the first strike of the union against the three corporations simultaneously, a situation that Biden has wanted to take advantage of to show his solidarity with the workers, a very unusual move even for presidents who in the past clearly showed their support for the unions.
Biden has encouraged the UAW to reach a collective bargaining agreement that ensures that record company profits lead to "record contracts" for workers. Despite this, at the moment he does not have the explicit support of the UAW in the face of the next presidential elections.
Trump will be in Detroit on Wednesday with a campaign rally to try to regain some of the support lost in Michigan in the last election. One of his spokesmen has called the president's trip a "cheap photo opportunity," noting that it's only because Trump first announced he would go on Wednesday.