Biden announces trip to Michigan amid autoworker demands for all-out strike

Presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at UAW Region 1 headquarters in Warren, Michigan on September 9, 2020. [AP Photo/Patrick Semansky]

On Friday, US President Joe Biden announced that he will travel to Michigan on Tuesday to “join the picket line” of autoworkers amid the angry demands of rank-and-file autoworkers for an all-out strike by the UAW against the Big Three auto corporations.

Reversing an announcement just two days prior that a team would not be sent to Detroit and that the White House would “continue to monitor the situation remotely,” Biden posted his travel plans on X (formerly Twitter) at 5:00 p.m. on Friday.

In the post, Biden said he would, “join the picket line and stand in solidarity with the men and women of UAW as they fight for a fair share of the value they helped create.”

As he has claimed previously, Biden added, “It’s time for a win-win agreement that keeps American auto manufacturing thriving with well-paid UAW jobs.” The Democratic Party president, a lifelong representative and defender of capitalist exploitation, has yet to explain exactly what he means by a “fair share,” a “win-win agreement” or “well-paid UAW jobs.”

Biden announced the plan to travel to Michigan within hours of a Facebook livestream broadcast by UAW President Shawn Fain that announced further “expanded strikes” at 38 GM and Stellantis aftermarket parts distribution centers (PDCs) that will have no impact on automotive production.

The calling out on strike of 5,600 workers at the PDCs is a continuation of Fain’s fraudulent “Stand Up Strike” program that had UAW members at just three auto factories go on strike when contracts at Ford, GM and Stellantis expired at midnight on September 14. Meanwhile, the UAW leadership is telling nearly 90 percent of autoworkers to continue working, ceding the power to the auto companies.

Biden’s upcoming trip to Michigan has been reported in the corporate media as a response to an invitation during the Facebook livestream where Fain said, “We invite and encourage everyone who supports our cause to join us on the picket line, from our friends and families all the way up to the President of the United States, we invite you to join us in our fight.”

Fain’s request and Biden’s announcement suggest that the President’s trip to Michigan is part of carefully orchestrated arrangements between the White House and the union bureaucracy to contain the growing struggle of autoworkers against the UAW’s refusal to call all 150,000 members onto the picket lines.

According to Jeremi Suri, a presidential historian and professor at University of Texas at Austin, Biden’s plan to join a picket line will likely be the first time in US history that a president has done so. As Suri told Reuters on Friday, “It’s very rare for a president to visit strikers.”

If he follows through on it, Biden is taking the unprecedented measure of joining a picket line not to side with autoworkers against GM, Ford and Stellantis, but on behalf of the entire American corporate and financial elite. His aim is to divert attention away from the growing anger of rank-and-file autoworkers and buy time for Fain and the UAW leadership to conclude a new sellout agreement with the Big Three.

Biden is also visiting Michigan as part of his campaign for reelection in the 2024 presidential campaign. While the UAW has yet to officially endorse Biden for president, it is just a matter of time before the union gives its backing to the incumbent Democratic Party candidate. Biden’s stage-managed trip to Michigan provides the UAW bureaucracy with the means to follow through and complete its endorsement.

Meanwhile, Biden’s trip will take place one day before former President Donald Trump, the fascist front-runner for the Republican Party presidential nomination, is scheduled to deliver a primetime speech to an audience of current and former union members in Detroit.