DETROIT – Former President Donald Trump said he traveled to Detroit to meet with striking auto workers, but the place where he planned to hold his event Wednesday is a non-union parts supplier whose workers are not in the city at all strike are involved.
Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers, pointed this out after President Joe Biden stopped at a picket line in Belleville, Michigan, on Tuesday.
“I find it strange that he would go to a non-union company to talk to union employees,” Fain told reporters after Biden’s stop. “I don’t think he understands it, but that’s for the people to decide.”
Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign will hold its event at Drake Enterprises in Macomb County, a typical swing county in the Detroit suburbs that supported Biden in 2020 after Trump won in 2016. A UAW statewide spokesman confirmed that the union does not represent workers at Drake, but the factory could be home to other unions. Drake did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s campaign says he plans to give a prime-time speech to an audience of 500 union members, including some auto workers. The former president has touted that his renegotiation of trade relations between the United States, Mexico and Canada will benefit ordinary workers. But union leaders see him as anything but an ally. Trump and Republicans in general, were mostly silent During the UAW strike against General Motors in 2019, Trump did not visit the picket lines. Fain sharply criticizes Trump and calls him an out-of-touch member of the Millionaire and billionaire class against which the workers are fighting.
“The proof is in the totality of the work,” Fain said. “I remember again during the Depression when he was quoted as blaming the union and the UAW for what was wrong with the auto companies. I remember in 2015 when he first ran and he talked about doing a rotation, getting rid of our jobs and moving them somewhere else where they pay less money.”
The UAW has not yet taken any steps to support Biden in the 2024 presidential race – but Fain has made clear there is no support for Trump.
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the former president highlighted the union’s leadership on a Saturday post on Truth Social. “If the UAW “leadership” does not SUPPORT me and if I do not win the election, the autoworkers will be targeted and our great truckers will follow,” he wrote.
Drake cites Ford, General Motors and other major automakers as customers, all of which do business with a vast network of union and non-union suppliers. Drake’s website says the company specializes in making heavy-duty truck parts: “Our customers include many large OEM companies in the heavy-duty truck, agricultural and automotive markets.” The company says it has 125 employees to have.
Drake CEO Nathan Stemple appeared on Fox News on Tuesday to discuss Trump’s upcoming visit. He said the strike has affected demand for the parts his company makes. Stemple also took a dig at Biden when asked about his stop at the picket line.
“I’m not a big politician. “I have three children and run a manufacturing company, so I don’t have time to get involved in politics,” he said. “I looked at some past things and President Biden said in 2020 that he would create 18.6 million auto jobs. And I don’t know if that’s already happened or if he miscalculated his numbers. We all know this has happened before.” (Biden didn’t actually say he would get anything done 18.6 million jobs in the automotive industry.)
Trump’s visit was touted as an attempt to bring to justice striking auto workers who are part of the labor coalition that fueled his rise in 2016. Meanwhile, Biden’s appearance Tuesday at a General Motors supplier in Belleville made him the first president ever to do so Meet striking workers on a picket line.
Trump is expected to make his remarks Wednesday at 8 p.m. as a counterprogram to the second Republican presidential debate.