Former President Donald Trump next week will be swapping debate time with his presidential rivals for time with autoworkers on strike in Detroit, where the strike is now in its fifth day.
The showdown between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three in Detroit is playing out in a battleground state in the 2024 election.
Mr. Trump has shown his support for the striking auto workers, saying that the Biden administration’s push to transition to electric vehicles is a scam that will end their careers.
President Biden is firmly in support of the UAW, though that is one of the few unions that has held out in endorsing Mr. Biden’s reelection bid.
UAW President Shawn Fair said he doesn’t want the strike mixed up in presidential politics and he doesn’t want Mr. Trump around.
“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,” Mr. Fain said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
This will be the second time Mr. Trump skipped a Republican primary debate. At the first debate held in August in Milwaukee, Mr. Trump opted for an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that was posted on X the same day.
The UAW members walked out at General Motors, Ford and Italian-American conglomerate Stellantis, which owns Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and European brands such as Fiat and Peugeot.
“The United Autoworkers are being sold down the ‘drain’ with this all Electric Car SCAM,” Mr. Trump wrote on his social media platform Monday. “With the Democrats & crooked Joe calling the shots, you’ll be jobless & penniless within 4 years.”
Ammar Moussa, a Biden campaign spokesperson said the purpose of Mr. Trump’s trip to Detroit is “to lie” to the workers since he didn’t do anything to help them during his administration.
“Donald Trump is going to Michigan next week to lie to Michigan workers and pretend he didn’t spend his entire failed presidency selling them out at every turn,” Moussa said. “Instead of standing with workers, Trump cut taxes for the super-wealthy while auto companies shuttered their doors and shipped American jobs overseas.”
President Biden is sending two administration officials to Detroit to meet with both sides. He has backed the union, saying that the automakers have not been transparent with their profits.
Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and senior aide Gene Sperling will be going to Detroit to help support the negotiations “in any way the parties feel is constructive,” said an administration.
The administration official, who was not at liberty to share these discussions and spoke anonymously, said the two would not act as mediators.
• This story is based in part on wire service reports.