President Joe Biden picketed Tuesday with United Auto Workers (UAW) members in Michigan, on a visit he announced after former President Donald Trump said that he would be traveling to join striking workers there.
The UAW has walked off the job at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis plants in an effort to push for higher wages, amid high inflation and lavish government subsidies on electric vehicles (EV) — both features of “Bidenomics.”
Biden spoke to striking workers on a picket line through a bullhorn, telling them he stood with them. He did not, however, mention inflation or the EV push, which critics say are two primary reasons for the strike.
UAW President Shawn Fain, who spoke after Biden, likened the “corporate greed” of auto makers to the Axis powers that the U.S. faced in World War Two.
UAW President Shawn Fain suggests automaker executives at Ford, GM, and Stellantis are akin the Axis powers in WWII — Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan — and the workers are like those who built the jets at the same plant 80 years ago to win the war pic.twitter.com/vAkPUJDAEL
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 26, 2023
The Hill noted Biden is now the first sitting U.S. president to picket with striking workers:
Experts in presidential and U.S. labor history say they cannot recall an instance when a sitting president has joined an ongoing strike, even during the tenures of the more ardent pro-union presidents such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Theodore Roosevelt invited labor leaders alongside mine operators to the White House amid a historic coal strike in 1902, a decision that was seen at the time as a rare embrace of unions as Roosevelt tried to resolve the dispute.
Lawmakers often appear at strikes to show solidarity with unions, and during his 2020 Democratic primary campaign, Biden and other presidential hopefuls joined a picket line of hundreds of casino workers in Las Vegas who were pushing for a contract with The Palms Casino Resort.
But sitting presidents, who have to balance the rights of workers with disruptions to the economy, supply chains and other facets of everyday life, have long wanted to stay out of the strike fray — until Biden.
President-elect Barack Obama also supported an illegal strike by workers at a window factory before he took office in 2008.
Trump announced September 18 that he would be appearing with striking workers in Detroit on September 27 rather than attending the second Republican presidential primary debate. Democrats panicked at the prospect of Trump’s visit.
Biden then announced, four days later, that he would be visiting UAW workers. His visit happened to be the day before Trump’s. Biden has done this before: in 2020, he visited riot-torn Kenosha, Wisconsin, after Trump did.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.