Former U.S. president Donald Trump held a rally in Michigan last night in an attempt to win the support of autoworkers amid the ongoing UAW strike against the Big Detroit Three (GM, Ford, Stellantis). Trump focused primarily on the industry-wide shift to electric vehicles, characterizing EVs as detrimental to the American economy and labor. Trump’s rally was held one day after his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, visited UAW picket lines.
Donal Trump spoke at Drake Enterprises Inc., an automotive supplier in Clinton Township that offers gear shift levers and transmission components for internal-combustion-powered heavy trucks. Drake Enterprise employees are not represented by the UAW. It’s estimated that 400 to 500 supporters attended the rally, although it’s unclear how many in attendance were auto workers.
During his speech, Donald Trump argued that the shift to electric vehicles was a “hit job” on Detroit.
“The auto industry is being assassinated,” Trump told the crowd. “If you want to buy an electric car, that’s absolutely fine. I’m all for it. But we should not be forcing consumers to buy electric vehicles they don’t want to buy.”
Trump also addressed the role labor had to play in the EV transition.
“You can be loyal to American labor or you can be loyal to the environmental lunatics,” Trump said. “But you can’t really be loyal to both. It’s one or the other.”
Labor leaders have expressed concern that the EV transition will result in job losses, as electric vehicles traditionally require fewer parts than equivalent ICE-powered vehicles.
Trump’s rally was held amid the ongoing strike by the United Auto Workers against GM, Ford, and Stellantis following the expiration of previous labor contracts on September 14th. UAW President Shawn Fain has been outspoken in his criticism of Donald Trump, accusing the former U.S. president of “[serving] the billionaire class,” rather than American workers. During his speech, Trump said that if the UAW backs Trump for president, Fain could take a vacation and the union would be better off than ever.
Democratic rival Joe Biden was in Michigan on Tuesday to visit the UAW picket line at the GM Willow Run Distribution Center, marking the first time in modern history that a sitting president has joined a picket line.
The UAW is expected to expand its strike this Friday.