About 500 Michigan autoworkers and community members gathered at Drake Enterprises, a non-union automotive factory in Clinton Township Wednesday evening to hear remarks from former President Donald Trump during the ongoing UAW strike. This follows President Joe Biden’s visit to Michigan Tuesday to join UAW members on the picket line, making Biden the first sitting president in history to do so.
The UAW has been striking since last Friday after failing to come to a contract agreement with the Big Three automakers: General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. As of Wednesday, about 18,300 total union members are on strike across plants from all three automakers. The UAW’s main demands include a 36% pay increase over four years, along with a variety of workplace improvements, such as shorter work weeks and the elimination of the tiered pay system.
Prior to Trump’s arrival, UAW president Shawn Fain said in a statement he did not support Trump’s decision to visit a non-union factory in Detroit and urged UAW members to continue their fight against the upper class.
“Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,” Fain said. “We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don’t have any understanding of what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.”
Trump’s visit to Michigan falls on the same night as the second Republican Party national debate in Simi Valley, California, where other Republican primary candidates debated topics such as immigration, U.S. support for Ukraine and Trump’s noticeable absence from the debate. Trump is currently leading in national polls for the Republican primary. Voters will be electing the Republican nominee in primary elections ranging from early February until mid-September.
When greeting the crowd at the beginning of his remarks, Trump emphasized his support for working class Americans and the importance of the American automobile industry.
“I spent my whole life working alongside Americans just like you,” Trump said. “I put everything on the line to fight for you. I’ve risked it all to save the working class from the corrupt political class that has spent decades sucking the life and blood out of this nation. That’s why I’m here tonight. To lay out a vision for a revival of economic nationalism and our automobile manufacturing.”
Trump also emphasized his opposition to the shift toward electric vehicles, an initiative the Biden-Harris administration has emphasized heavily. Trump told autoworkers the growing prevalence of electric vehicles will drive traditional automakers out of business, causing them to lose their jobs.
“(Biden) wants electric vehicle mandates that will spell the death of the U.S. auto industry,” Trump said. “I watched them negotiating the contract on the picket line, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference because in two years you are all going to be out of business.”
At the end of his remarks, Trump said he was committed to protecting American jobs, union workers and the American oil and gas industries.
“As your 47th president of the United States, I will be your protector, I will be your advocate and I will be your biggest champion,” Trump said. “And we will drill, baby, drill.”
Correction 9/28: Drake Enterprises is a non-union automotive factory in Detroit. The majority of the group who gathered to listen to Trump were not UAW members.
Daily Staff Reporter Mary Corey can be reached at email@example.com.