Former President Trump Courts UAW Backing, Criticizes EVs and President Biden in Michigan Rally

Clinton Township, Michigan - Former President Donald Trump made an overture to blue-collar autoworkers on Wednesday evening, taking aim at electric vehicles (EVs) and warning of the unsubstantiated decline of the U.S. auto industry. During an auto worker-focused rally at a nonunion auto parts supplier in suburban Detroit, Trump urged United Auto Workers (UAW) members to persuade their union leaders to endorse his candidacy for the 2024 presidential race, where he currently stands as the leading Republican contender.

Trump repeatedly appealed to the UAW for their endorsement during his approximately hour-long speech. He did so by mocking President Joe Biden and vowing to safeguard the U.S. automotive industry from what he portrayed as impending doom due to current Democratic policies, particularly the promotion of EVs.

At one juncture, Trump clarified that he harbors no aversion to EVs but believes consumers should have the freedom to choose between electric vehicles, traditional gasoline-powered cars, and diesel models. He criticized President Biden's objective to have 50% of new vehicle sales be electric by 2030 and expressed concern over the automotive industry's reliance on China for batteries and components.

Trump asserted, "If you want to buy an electric car, that's absolutely fine. I'm all for it. But we should not be forcing consumers to buy electric vehicles they don't want to buy."

The former president's visit coincided with ongoing targeted strikes by the UAW against General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis. The strikes ensued after contracts for 146,000 UAW members with the Detroit automakers expired on September 14 without tentative agreements being reached. Currently, around 18,300 UAW members employed by the Detroit automakers are on strike, with the union warning of additional strikes unless substantial progress is made in negotiations by Friday.

Trump made several references to the striking union workers and the ongoing negotiations during his speech, emphasizing that such discussions would be rendered inconsequential if the automotive industry faces extinction.

"It doesn't make a damn bit of difference what you get because in two years you're all going to be out of business," Trump declared.

A UAW spokesperson declined to comment on Trump's remarks following the event. UAW President Shawn Fain, who had joined President Biden on a UAW picket line earlier in suburban Detroit, had heavily criticized Trump and his visit to Michigan.

Fain, in an interview on CNN, had previously denounced Trump's track record with automotive unions and expressed disapproval over the former president holding a rally for union members at a nonunion company named Drake Enterprises. Fain stated, "I find it a pathetic irony that the former president is going to hold a rally for union members at a nonunion business."

While the UAW has traditionally supported Democratic candidates, including endorsing Biden in 2020, Fain has refrained from re-endorsing the president, citing concerns related to EVs. Although Fain praised President Biden's appearance on the picket line, he did not officially endorse him for the upcoming presidential election, calling it a "historic moment."

Fain has consistently voiced his belief that another Trump presidency would be detrimental. However, Trump has garnered support from many rank-and-file union members who appreciate his past trade policies and stance on EVs.

Brian Pannebecker, a retiree with over 30 years of experience at Chrysler and Ford, is among Trump's ardent supporters. Pannebecker contends that the UAW and autoworkers should back Trump because of his historical trade policies and his position on EV mandates.

"Donald Trump would not be pushing this EV kind of mandate on the companies or on the consumers," Pannebecker asserted during the Wednesday rally.