Joe Biden joins US auto workers on picket line in Michigan

This is, according to the White House, a “historic” gesture

Joe Biden joins US auto workers on picket line in Michigan

This is, according to the White House, a “historic” gesture. Joe Biden visited a strike picket of auto industry workers in Michigan on Tuesday, September 26. He is the first sitting American president to go on a picket line.

Wearing a cap displaying the logo of the Auto Workers Union (UAW), the Democrat, candidate for his own succession in 2024, addressed the strikers with a megaphone, emphasizing the “sacrifices” made to save the industry during the 2008 crisis and believing they deserved a “significant increase” in salary.

Such presidential support, in a social conflict, which pits the union organization against the three giants of the sector – General Motors, Ford and Stellantis –, is a reminder of the proximity that Mr. Biden has cultivated during his career with the workers’ unions. It also highlights the importance of Michigan as the Democrat could once again face his predecessor, Donald Trump, in next year's presidential election.

Desire for a “win-win” agreement

By going there on Tuesday, Joe Biden steals the limelight from his Republican rival, who plans to go to the same state on Wednesday to court blue-collar workers, on whom he intends to base his reconquest of the White House. Enough to make this already historic strike a subject of political battle.

Donald Trump, who announced his trip before that of Joe Biden, also accused the Democratic president of copying him. And his adviser Jason Miller called Joe Biden's visit "nothing more than a poor photo op."

For Joe Biden, the challenge is to prove that he is, on the contrary, the president of the working classes, defender of the unions and architect of the industrial renewal of the United States. But the octogenarian, struggling in the polls and now gauged at each trip on his physical condition, is walking on eggshells: the current social conflict could prove very damaging for the American economy.

And the strike spread to car manufacturers General Motors and Stellantis, due to lack of progress in union negotiations, unlike Ford where “real progress” has been made. Joe Biden has several times publicly estimated that manufacturers should pass on their “record profits” to employees.

Asked whether the president was taking sides in the social conflict, the White House spokesperson preferred to sidestep the questions, insisting that Joe Biden wanted above all a “win-win” agreement. “We don’t get involved in negotiations,” she added.

Donald Trump also expected in Michigan

Joe Biden has made his support for unions a hallmark of his term, and the UAW's support of his 2020 candidacy helped him swing Michigan in his favor, after the state had voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

However, the Democrat's government is one of the driving forces behind the historic upheaval that the automobile industry is experiencing towards more environmentally friendly vehicles. “When he walks slowly pretending to be on a ‘picket,’ remember he wants to take your jobs and send them to China,” Donald Trump accused on Truth Social. The subsidies for electric vehicles provided for in President Biden's major climate plan (IRA) only apply to cars manufactured in North America.

The Republican's hopes of a return to the White House rest largely on the same blue-collar votes he won in 2016 in key states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump will speak in front of a factory that makes auto parts in Clinton Township, Michigan, according to his campaign team, a little more than 60 miles from where Joe Biden visited on Tuesday.