President Joe Biden speaks to the United Auto Workers members outside a General Motors plant in Belleville, Michigan.

Biden Joins Striking United Auto Workers in Michigan

Biden is the first sitting president to join the picket line.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023, marked the 12th day of the United Auto Workers strike, which began earlier this month in response to unfair pay. The union also demands that worker benefit pensions and regular pay raises be restored, plus more. President Biden will be the first president in history to actually attend a strike in support of the unionized workers, a big step up from his previous vocal support of the union’s efforts. “Folks, stick with it because you deserve the significant raise you need and other benefits,” Biden said to the crowd, adding, “Unions built the middle class, that’s a fact, … So let’s keep going. You deserve what you’ve earned and you earned a hell of a lot more than you’re getting paid now.”

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The President has had no formal role in strike negotiations, but he has stated that auto manufacturers are not doing enough to support factory workers. Outright support from a sitting president was heretofore unheard of, causing some speculation as to Biden’s true motivations.

Biden’s visit comes ahead of Trump’s upcoming rally in Detroit, a major hub for auto manufacturers. Though Trump has claimed to be a champion of labor unions, he doesn’t have the track record to prove it. Biden, on the other hand, has a history of showing support for unionization efforts at Amazon, as well as support for the writers currently striking in Hollywood. His record of support has earned him union endorsements, which could be key on the upcoming campaign trail.

Michigan is a key swing state during presidential election years and is home to a significant number of the nation’s unions. The special attention Biden and Trump are paying to the state could be related to its importance in their respective campaigns, and being outspoken about union support could help sway the opinions of voters. According to a Gallup poll, 67% of Americans support labor unions, which can be the difference between winning and losing a state’s electoral votes.

(featured image: screenshot/WFAA)

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Scout (she/her/hers) is a freelance news writer for The Mary Sue. When not scrolling Twitter, she's thinking about scrolling Twitter. She likes short walks on the beach, glitter pens, and burnt coffee. She does not read the comments.