President Joe Biden recently made a speech to UAW members in Belvidere, Illinois, praising the union’s recent negotiating success, endorsing some talking points of UAW president Shawn Fain, and attempting to drum up support for his reelection campaign in 2024.
Biden said “I want this type of contract for all autoworkers,” echoing Fain’s declaration that the UAW planned to push for unionization of other U.S. automotive work forces, including those of Toyota, Honda, and Tesla, Reuters reports.
Biden, wearing a red UAW top, told the gathered union workers “these deals are game changers – not only for UAW workers but for all workers in America. Just ask the folks at Toyota, which just last week announced it would significantly finally increase wages for their workers.”
Biden’s speech referred to the Japanese automaker’s decision to give its U.S. production workers a roughly 9 percent pay raise, its third increase for the year. Honda likewise announced an 11 percent pay hike for its American production employees following the tentative contract deal between the UAW and the Detroit Three automakers, including GM.
In addition to touting his own support for the UAW, Biden took the opportunity to level criticism at potential presidential challenger Donald Trump. He said “my predecessor went to a non-union shop and attacked you,” to responding cries of “yes he did! Yes he did!” from the crowd. Biden added, “I hope you S.O. – I hope you guys have a memory.”
With polls currently showing faltering support for Biden in half a dozen swing states, with Trump ahead by up to 9 percent in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, winning some reflected glory from the UAW success could give the incumbent some additional clout in next year’s election campaign.
The president appears to be seeking official UAW backing to strengthen his slight lead in Michigan and perhaps win back some popularity elsewhere. Honigman law firm partner Mark Burton says Biden now has “a good working relationship with Shawn Fain” and expects “the near-term result will be an endorsement” from the UAW.
The UAW GM Council reached a tentative agreement with The General after 46 days of strikes. However, the new contract terms now have to clear the hurdle of passing a ratification vote by the union’s regular members. UAW Local 598 at the GM Flint plant in Michigan rejected the new agreement and several other union locals have also done so.