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Biden to Detroit automakers: 'It's time for them to step up for us'

Breana Noble, Jordyn Grzelewski and Riley Beggin, The Detroit News on

Published in News & Features

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. — President Joe Biden spoke to striking United Auto Workers members during a brief visit midday Tuesday to a picket line outside of a General Motors parts distribution center.

Biden's remarks to union members were brief on the 12th day of the Detroit-based union's first simultaneous strike against all three Detroit automakers. The president spoke to striking workers at the General Motors Co.'s Willow Run Redistribution Center, one of 38 parts distribution facilities owned by GM and Stellantis NV that the UAW began striking on Friday as the union escalated the work stoppage.

"You made a lot of sacrifice. You gave up a lot when the companies were in trouble. Now, they're doing incredibly well. And guess what? You should be doing incredibly well, too," Biden said to applause from the picketers. "You deserve a significant raise you need and other benefits. Let's get back what we lost, okay? ... It's time for them to step up for us."

"Wall Street didn't build the country," Biden later added. "The middle class built the country, and unions built the middle class. That's a fact. Let's keep it going."

Biden's visit marks the first time in at least a century that a sitting president has visited a labor union's picket line, according to the White House. UAW President Shawn Fain joined Biden at the picket line.

Former President Donald Trump also is set to make an address Wednesday at an auto supplier in Macomb County. The trips by the likely 2024 presidential nominees, according to experts, underscore the important role manufacturing workers play in elections and the economy and the significance of issues like worker wages, corporate profits and the move to electric vehicles.


Fain was at Detroit Metro Airport to greet the president, along with Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell, Shri Thanedar and Rashida Tlaib, all of Michigan.

After his brief remarks, Biden bumped fists and posed for selfie pictures with some of the workers in the crowd before his entourage departed and headed back to Detroit Metro Airport.

Ahead of the president's arrival, Paul Dunford was on the picket line in Wayne representing the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne is the only Ford site on strike following substantial progress made with the Blue Oval last week on job security measures, the return of a cost-of-living adjustment and other compensation disparity issues. Conversations with Ford were "very active" over the weekend and on Monday, according to a UAW source, though there's still work to do on a number of items.


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