Negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Detroit Three automakers on Monday continued ahead of scheduled visits to Michigan from President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
The visits were expected to put an even greater spotlight on the strike, now in its 11th day, against General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Jeep maker Stellantis NV. The Detroit-based union expanded the action to 38 GM and Stellantis parts distribution centers in 20 states on Friday after initially striking at a single assembly plant at each company, the union's first simultaneous strike against all three.
Biden on Tuesday is expected to join a picket line in Michigan following an invitation extended by UAW President Shawn Fain on Friday. Trump is scheduled to visit an auto supplier in Clinton Township on Wednesday.
"Those visits will bolster our credibility, because you have a former president, plus a current president speaking on our behalf," said Wayne Barracks, 53, of Trenton, Michigan, a team leader at Stellantis' engine plant. "They are both on different sides. We need all the help we can get. If they are both on our side, that’s a good thing."
Not all of the autoworkers, though, were eager about the presidential guests, whose support from blue-collar workers were part of the key demographics that led both to their respective victories in 2016 and 2020.
"I wish none of them would come," said Jason Teaster, 42, of Rockwood, Michigan, who works at Ford's stamping operation at the Bronco and Ranger plant in Wayne that is on strike. "They're just coming here for a photo opp. They want their vote that is all it is. It doesn’t concern them. They aren't a part of of the union or the Big Three. Stay in your lane."
Teaster added that although his workplace, the Michigan Assembly Plant, remains the only Ford facility on the strike, the progress reported by the union in talks with Ford struck some hope for workers like himself.
"It seems that Ford is coming to the table and bargaining in good faith," he said. "From what we heard, they've agreed on pretty much the majority of the stuff. You can feel it at work, everybody seems to be pretty excited. Nobody wants to be on the strike."
Ford's proposals to the union include converting all current temporary employees with more than 90 days of experience to full-time, an "enhanced" profit-sharing formula that is extended to temps, the right to strike over plant closures, income and health-care security for up to two years in the event of a layoff and reinstated cost-of-living adjustments, according to the UAW.
Biden and Trump weren't the only guests this week to the picket line. U.S. Rep. John James, R-Michigan, posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that he brought breakfast to striking UAW members in his district Monday.
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