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Biden to Auto Workers: Stick With It   09/27 06:27

   President Joe Biden grabbed a bullhorn on the picket line Tuesday and urged 
striking auto workers to "stick with it" in an unparalleled show of support for 
organized labor by a modern president.

   VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- President Joe Biden grabbed a bullhorn on 
the picket line Tuesday and urged striking auto workers to "stick with it" in 
an unparalleled show of support for organized labor by a modern president.

   Donning a union ballcap and exchanging fist bumps, Biden told United Auto 
Workers strikers that "you deserve the significant raise you need" as he 
stopped in the Detroit area just a day ahead of a planned visit by former 
President Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in next 
year's election.

   "No deal, no wheels!" workers chanted as Biden arrived at a General Motors 
parts distribution warehouse, one of several facilities that has been targeted 
in a widening strike now in its 12th day. "No pay, no parts!"

   Despite concerns that a prolonged strike could undermine the economy, 
particularly in the crucial battleground state of Michigan, the Democratic 
president encouraged workers to keep fighting for better wages at a time when 
car companies have seen rising profits.

   Asked if UAW members deserved a 40% raise, one of their demands over the 
course of negotiations, Biden said: "Yes. I think they should be able to 
bargain for that."

   He's repeatedly argued that auto companies have not gone far enough to meet 
union demands, especially after making concessions in the wake of the 2008 
financial crisis.

   "The fact of the matter is that you guys, the UAW, you saved the automobile 
industry back in 2008 ... you made a lot of sacrifices. You gave up a lot. And 
the companies were in trouble. Now they're doing incredibly well and guess 
what? You should be doing incredibly well."

   The White House said Biden was the first modern president to visit a picket 
line, a sign of how far he's willing to go to cultivate union support as he 
runs for reelection.

   Lawmakers often appear at strikes to show solidarity with unions, and Biden 
joined picket lines with casino workers in Las Vegas and auto workers in Kansas 
City while seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

   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 stayed out of the strike fray -- until Biden.

   Unimpressed, Trump called Biden's visit "nothing more than a PR stunt from 
Crooked Joe Biden to distract and gaslight the American people from his 
disastrous Bidenomics policies that have led to so much economic misery across 
the country."

   The president spent less than half an hour at the Willow Run parts 
distribution warehouse, where he was joined by UAW President Shawn Fain, who 
rode with Biden in the presidential limousine to the picket line.

   "Thank you, Mr. President, for coming to stand up with us in our 
generation-defining moment," said Fain, who described the union as engaged in a 
"kind of war" against "corporate greed."

   "We do the heavy lifting. We do the real work," Fain said. "Not the CEOs."

   Labor historians said they could not recall an instance when a sitting 
president had joined an ongoing strike, even during the tenures of 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.

   Biden's visit to the picket line was the most significant demonstration of 
his pro-union bona fides, a record that includes vocal support for unionization 
efforts at facilities and executive actions that promoted worker 
organizing. He also earned a joint endorsement of major unions earlier this 
year and has avoided southern California for high-dollar fundraisers amid the 
writers' and actors' strikes in Hollywood.

   The United Farm Workers announced their endorsement of Biden on Tuesday, 
calling him "an authentic champion for workers and their families, regardless 
of their race or national origin." Biden's campaign manager, Julie Chavez 
Rodriguez, is the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez, the union's co-founder.

   The UAW has not endorsed Biden. Asked about that after landing in Michigan, 
Biden told reporters that "I'm not worried about that."

   Fain later said any endorsements would come later. "We've got to get good 
contracts first and we'll work out those things down the road," he said.

   At least one warehouse worker on the picket line was not swayed by the 
visit. Curtis Cranford, who has 38 years with GM, was happy that Biden visited, 
but said it wouldn't necessarily deter him from voting Republican in 2024.

   "I think it means a lot. It should hopefully put some pressure on the 
company. The White House is behind us" Cranford said.

   Still, he said he and many union members disagree with Democrats on securing 
the borders, abortion and other issues. And he said both Trump and Biden were 
too old for the job.

   Biden and other Democrats are aggressively touting the president's pro-labor 
credentials as Trump works to make inroads in critical swing states where 
unions remain influential, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. Biden is 
leaning on his union support at a time when labor enjoys broad support from the 
public, with 67% of Americans approving of labor unions in an August Gallup 

   The UAW strike, which expanded into 20 states last week, remains a dilemma 
for the Biden administration since a part of the workers' grievances include 
concerns about a broader transition to electric vehicles. The shift away from 
gas-powered vehicles has worried some autoworkers because electric versions 
require fewer people to manufacture and there is no guarantee that factories 
that produce them will be unionized.

   Adrian Mitchell, who works at the GM parts warehouse, said Biden would be 
better for the middle class than Trump. "He supports the people in regards to 
coming out here, showing solidarity with the UAW workers," Mitchell said. "He's 
always been for the middle class. I can't speak about Trump."

   On electric vehicles, Mitchell said workers are concerned that the 
transition from internal combustion vehicles may cost them jobs. "We haven't 
really gotten to that point to see the job losses yet," he said. "So we can't 
look into the future to kind of see what's really going to happen. But we're 
all a little worried about that right now."

   Trump is skipping the second Republican primary debate on Wednesday and will 
meet with striking autoworkers in Michigan, seeking to capitalize on discontent 
over the state of the economy and anger over the Biden administration's push 
for more electric vehicles -- a key component of its clean-energy agenda.

   White House officials dismissed any notion that Trump forced their hand and 
noted that Biden headed to Michigan at the request of Fain, who last week 
invited the sitting president to join the strikers.

   The Biden administration has no formal role in the negotiations, and the 
White House pulled back a decision from the president earlier this month to 
send two key deputies to Michigan after determining it would be more productive 
for the advisers, Gene Sperling and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, to monitor 
talks from Washington.

   Fain said Tuesday that negotiations were moving slowly and they'll escalate 
the strike to more plants if they need to.

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