BELLEVILLE, MI — President Joe Biden made history Tuesday when he joined the United Auto Workers picket line, the strongest show of support for union members by a sitting president.
Biden arrived at the General Motors’ Willow Run Redistribution Center in Belleville, Michigan, and entered the picket line wearing a UAW baseball cap, and used a bullhorn to address the members.
“The fact of the matter is that you guys, UAW, you saved the automobile industry back in 2008 and before,” Biden said. “Made a lot of sacrifices, gave up a lot and the companies were in trouble. But now they’re doing incredibly well and guess what, you should be doing incredibly well too.”
Biden’s appearance was historic as he became the first sitting president in modern history to join a picket line.
“Folks, stick with it because you deserve the significant raise you need and other benefits,” he continued.
The UAW strike against the three major companies — General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis — has entered its 11th day. By joining the picket line, Biden positioned himself on the side of the labor workers, a move that Democrats fear could hurt him politically.
“Today I want to just take a moment to stand with all of you, with our president, and say thank you to the president. Thank you, Mr. President for coming.” UAW union president Shaun Fain said.
As he runs for a second term, Biden is aware he needs to win the Rust Belt states such as Michigan and cannot afford to lose the support of the average worker by aligning himself with well-paid executives.
The President’s likely opponent in the 2024 general election, Donald Trump, will be addressing UAW workers in Michigan on Wednesday.
There is a fear among White House officials that Biden getting too involved will see him owning the outcome, for better or worse, people familiar with the White House’s thinking said.
Asked if UAW members deserved a 40 percent raise, one of their demands over the course of negotiations, Biden said “yes.”