President Joe Biden announced that he would travel to Michigan on Tuesday to “join the picket line” with members of the United Automobile Workers who are on strike against the nation’s leading automakers, in one of the most significant displays of presidential support for striking workers in decades.
“Tuesday, I’ll go to Michigan to 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,” Biden wrote on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.
The trip is set to come a day before Biden’s leading rival in the 2024 campaign, Donald Trump, has planned his own speech in Michigan and was announced hours after Shawn Fain, the union’s president, escalated pressure on the White House with a public invitation to Biden.
“We invite and encourage everyone who supports our cause to join us on the picket lines, from our friends and family all the way to the president of the United States,” Fain said in a Friday morning speech streamed online.
It was not immediately clear where Biden would go in Michigan. The White House had already announced plans for Biden to fly to California on Tuesday as part of a three-day trip to the West Coast.
Biden made the decision on Friday, after Fain’s public invitation, according to two people familiar with the White House deliberations.
Fain on Friday announced the expansion of the UAW’s work stoppage from three facilities to 38 assembly plants and distribution centres in 20 states, including six — Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina and Georgia — that are expected to be presidential battlegrounds in next year’s election.
Michigan, the home of the American automotive industry, is home to the bulk of the facilities and striking workers.
There is little to no precedent for a sitting president joining striking workers on a picket line.
Seth Harris, a former top labour policy adviser for Biden, said he was not aware of any president walking a picket line before.
“This president takes seriously his role as the most pro-union president in history,” Harris said. “Sometimes that means breaking precedent.”
New York Times News Service