The president of the United States, Joe Biden, became the first president of the country to join the picket line of a strike. Biden traveled to the state of Michigan to support the picket line of union members on the United Auto Workers trip, which came after he faced political pressure to increase his public support for union members.
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“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 help create. It’s time for a win-win deal that continues the growth of American auto manufacturing with good-paying UAW jobs,” Biden said in a post on the social network.
There is no precedent for a US president joining a strike picket line. In 1937, then vice president John Nance Garner supported federal intervention to end the historic Flint (Michigan) body plant strike, but the idea was rejected by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The president convinced General Motors, the largest company in the world, to recognize the union, which would become a very influential political actor in the following decades.
Biden’s trip and the historic appearance of the presidential picket highlighted the political opportunity as the strike against the nation’s three largest automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Stellar) enters its second week.
It happened one day before former President Donald Trump, who was leading the GOP presidential race, gave a prime-time speech to an audience of current and former union members, including the UAW, in Detroit. Earlier in the week, Trump’s team confirmed that he would skip the second Republican primary debate for this speech.
The former president’s campaign criticized Biden’s visit as a “cheap photo opportunity,” and Trump’s adviser, Jason Miller, claimed that Biden only went to Michigan because Trump announced his own trip.