The leader of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union has said that he sees “no point” in meeting Donald Trump during his upcoming visit to Michigan because the former president “doesn’t care” about the concerns of striking workers.
Shawn Fain, president of UAW, told CNN on Wednesday that Mr Trump “serves the billionaire class” and not the workers currently striking over pay in the car manufacturing industry.
“I see no point in meeting with him because I don’t think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for,” he said.
“He’s the billionaire class and that’s what’s wrong with our country.”
The UAW strike has become a political football ahead of the 2024 presidential election with both President Joe Biden and former president Mr Trump putting in appearances with striking workers in Michigan this week.
With the vote just over a year away, some analysts have called the sparring early shots in the election run up.
On Tuesday, Mr Biden became the first sitting US president to join a picket line when he met with staff outside the Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan.
There, he encouraged workers in their industrial action which came to a head when contract negotiations collapsed between companies and workers last month.
Mr Biden said: ï»¿“Stick with it. You deserve a significant raise… We saved them [the car companies]. It’s about time they step up for us.”
Mr Trump meanwhile slammed Mr Biden’s speech as a “cheap photo opportunity” ahead of his own speech in Detroit on Wednesday night – an appearance deliberately arranged so as to skip the second Republican presidential debate at the same time.
Mr Fain said that Mr Trump had been unsupportive in 2019 when UAW members went on strike against GM.
He also pointed out the Republican is visiting a non-union auto shop during his visit to Detroit.
“That’s where his loyalties lie,” Walter Robinson, a 57-year-old quality inspector in Wayne told the Guardian of Mr Trump’s plans to visit the shop.
“If he wants to be with working people who are struggling, then he should be here. I don’t know who he is playing for – is he playing for working people, or corporations?”
GM said last week it was forced to idle its Kansas car plant because of a parts shortage stemming from the UAW strike, which led it to temporarily furlough 2,000 workers in Kansas.
Stellantis temporarily laid off 68 employees in Ohio last week and expects to furlough another 300 workers in Indiana because of the strike, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Ford said on Sunday that despite progress in some areas, it still has "significant gaps to close" on key economic issues before it can reach an agreement with the union.
The “issues are interconnected and must work within an overall agreement that supports our mutual success,” it said.
Mr Fain said Friday that Ford had improved its contract offer, including boosting profit sharing and agreeing to let workers strike over plant closures but said the union still had serious issues to resolve.