President Biden used a major labor agreement between the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the Big Three auto companies to hammer former President Trump on Thursday for his record on jobs and support for union workers.
Biden, donning a red UAW shirt, addressed a boisterous crowd of supporters and community officials in Belvidere, Ill., near a reopening auto plant. The president was in Illinois for a victory lap after the union reached an agreement with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis late last month on a contract that included significant pay increases and other benefits.
The agreement was a major win for Biden, who joined striking workers on the picket line in Michigan and has touted himself as the most pro-union president in history. On Thursday, he used the deal to draw a contrast with Trump, his likely 2024 opponent.
“When my predecessor was in office, six factories closed across the country. Tens of thousands of auto jobs were lost nationwide, and on top of that he was willing to cede the future of electric vehicles to China,” Biden said.
“Well, like almost everything else he said, he’s wrong,” Biden added. “And you have proved him wrong. Instead of lower wages, you won record gains. Instead of fewer jobs, you won a commitment for thousands of more jobs.”
Top Stories from The Hill
Biden bashed Trump for a September visit to Michigan, where he spoke at a nonunion shop amid the autoworkers strike. And the president blasted Trump’s claims that the U.S. is a “nation in decline,” prompting boos from the crowd and calls from one attendee to “jail Trump.”
The weeks-long auto strikes came to an end in late October after UAW leaders reached tentative deals with the three automakers. The agreements with the companies included a 25 percent general pay increase over the course of a four-year contract, increased retirement benefits and more paid leave.
“Look folks, these deals are game-changers,” Biden said. “Not only for UAW workers, but for all workers in America. Just ask the folks at Toyota, which last week announced it would significantly finally increase wages for their workers. They had no choice because of what you did. You helped everybody.”
The president described UAW workers who spent several weeks on strike as “tough as they come,” and he singled out UAW President Shawn Fain for praise, saying he had a “backbone like a ramrod.”
Biden also thanked Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which he said negotiated “ultimately in good faith.”
The negotiations presented a difficult balancing act for Biden, who has simultaneously fought for the rights of unions while pushing for more investments in electric vehicles, one of the issues that was at the center of the negotiations between the UAW and the automakers.
Biden was briefly interrupted at the start of his remarks by a protester who urged him to call for a cease-fire in Gaza amid fighting between Israel and Hamas. The woman was quickly escorted out of the room.
The president said earlier Thursday there was “no possibility of a cease-fire,” which U.S. officials have argued would benefit Hamas, a militant group that launched terrorist attacks that killed more than 1,400 Israelis last month.
Instead, the U.S. pushed Israel to agree to humanitarian pauses to allow aid into Gaza and for hostages to get out. Israel agreed Thursday to four-hour daily pauses in parts of Gaza.
Source: The Hill