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Biden to head to Michigan to stand with UAW workers on picket line

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President Biden travels to Michigan Tuesday to join United Auto Workers union members on the picket line, with the strike now in its second week. 

It’s an unusual move for a sitting president to make such a visible intervention for striking workers. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insists they’re “not going to get into negotiations,” and wouldn’t say whether the White House supports UAW workers’ current proposal. The Biden administration had said it would send Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and top White House adviser Gene Sperling to help with negotiations, but then decided last week to keep the two in Washington.

Su and Sperling “have been in regular touch for the past several weeks with all parties,” Jean-Pierre said.

The message that Mr. Biden’s presence at the strike is intended to send is that “we support the auto workers,” Jean-Pierre said. 

“To be very clear, he is standing with them to make sure that they get a fair share,” Jean-Pierre also said. 

Mr. Biden plans to speak and join the picket line, but Jean-Pierre on Monday declined to share details of the president’s day. 

The president announced he would join the picket line last week, shortly after former President Trump announced he would visit Detroit on Wednesday and skip Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate in California. Trump has accused Mr. Biden of only visiting because Trump said he would.

“Crooked Joe Biden, who is killing the United Autoworkers with his WEAK stance on China and his ridiculous insistence on All Electric Cars, every one of which will be made in China, saw that I was going to Michigan this week (Wednesday!), so the Fascists in the White House just announced he would go there tomorrow,” the former president posted on Truth Social Monday morning. 

The UAW, which began its walkout on Sept. 15, has expanded its strike against Detroit’s Big Three automakers to include General Motors and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler) distribution centers across 20 states. The Big Three also includes Ford. Fewer than 20,000 UAW members are striking, out of the UAW’s nearly 150,000 members. 

The UAW has demanded a 36% pay increase, annual cost-of-living adjustments, pensions and a four-day work week, among other things. The sides still appear far apart.

Mr. Biden, who likes to call himself the most pro-union president, said last week that the companies have made “significant offers” but must do more. The president said workers deserve a “fair share of the benefits they help create for an enterprise.”

“Companies have made some significant offers, but I believe it should go further — to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts,” the president said when the strike began.

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