United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain said that he finds “pathetic irony” in former President Donald Trump‘s plan to hold a rally for union workers on Wednesday as the UAW continues its strike against America’s “Big Three” automakers.
The UAW, which represents nearly 150,000 autoworkers nationwide, went on strike this month against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis over demands for higher wages and increased benefits. The walkout began targeted locations on September 15, but has since expanded to included 18,300 workers spread across 21 states.
Trump made plans last week to meet with UAW members at Drake Enterprises—an auto supplier north of Detroit—marking the second time the former president will miss a GOP primary debate as he vies for the next Republican presidential nomination. But Fain, speaking with CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, dismissed Trump’s rally efforts, noting that the plant hosting the former president is a non-union manufacturer.
“I find the pathetic irony that the former president is going to hold a rally for union members at a non-union business,” Fain said during his appearance on CNN’s The Situation Room. “And you know, all you have to do is look at his track record. His track record speaks for itself.”
“In 2008 during the Great Recession, [Trump] blamed UAW members, he blamed our contracts for everything that was wrong with these companies,” Fain continued. “That’s a complete lie.”
Fain also cited Trump’s comments while running for office in 2016, when the former president suggested during an interview with The Detroit News that automakers should move some production plants out of Michigan into lower-wage states to avoid having to expand production into Mexico. Trump added during the interview that automakers could then make a “full-circle” move, “you’ll come back to Michigan because those guys are going to want their jobs back even if it is less.”
“The ultimate show of how much he cares about our workers was in 2019 when he was the president of the United States,” Fain said Tuesday. “Where was he then?”
“Our workers at [General Motors] were on strike for 60 days,” he added. “For two months, they were out there on the picket lines. I didn’t see him hold a rally. I didn’t see him stand up at the picket line.”
When asked by Blitzer if he intends to meet with Trump when he makes a visit to Michigan on Wednesday, Fain responded, “I see no point in meeting with him.”
“Because I don’t think he has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for,” Fain concluded. “He serves a billionaire class, and that’s what’s wrong with this country.”
The CNN interview occurred a few hours after President Joe Biden joined union members on strike in Michigan, likely becoming the first U.S. president in history to join a picket line while serving in office, according to presidency scholars. Fain had challenged Biden to stand beside union members last week after announcing that the strike was expanding.
“The middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class,” Biden told picketers on Tuesday, according to a report from The New York Times. “That’s a fact. Let’s keep going. You deserve what you’ve earned, and you’ve earned a hell of a lot more than you get paid now.”
The UAW has yet to give its endorsement for the 2024 presidential election, and Fain told Blitzer that his criticisms of Trump were not an indication that Biden was the union’s choice for November of next year.
Newsweek emailed Trump’s campaign team for comment Tuesday night.