BELLEVILLE, Michigan Reuters: President Joe Biden joined autoworkers on a picket line in Michigan on Tuesday to back their demand for a 40% wage hike, saying they deserve “a lot more” than they are now receiving.

The Republican front-runner for president, Donald Trump, will address auto workers in Michigan the day before Biden makes his trip. This will be the first time in modern history that a US president has visited striking US workers. Despite the fact that unions only represent a small portion of American workers, the unusual back-to-back incidents underline the significance of union support in the 2024 presidential election.

Biden, a Democrat, visited a GM-owned parts warehouse in Belleville, Michigan, and joined the large group of protesters there. “Companies were in distress; today they are thriving. And what’s this? Through a bullhorn, Biden remarked, “You ought to be doing extremely well, too. “Keep at it.”

He was making reference to a government bailout of US automakers in 2009 that also involved salary reductions. “You have earned what you have. And you’ve made much more money than you’re now being paid, he said.

When asked if he agreed with the union’s demand for a 40% raise—a sum that corresponds to CEO pay increases over four years—Biden said, “Yes. They need to be allowed to negotiate for it, in my opinion.

Auto company sources said Biden’s support for a 40% pay hike may make it harder to reach a compromise with the UAW. Talks are not advancing this week as attention is focused on Biden and Trump, they said.

Tesla chief Elon Musk weighed in on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, and said the 40% ask and shorter work hours are a “sure way” to drive the companies “bankrupt.” Tesla’s factories are not unionized.

Flanked by Secret Service agents, Biden exchanged fist bumps and took selfies with the crowd after he spoke.

Trump will address hundreds of workers at a gathering at an auto supplier in a Detroit suburb on Wednesday. The supplier, Drake Enterprises, is a nonunion manufacturer, according to a spokesman at the AFL-CIO. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Wednesday, Trump will speak to a crowd of hundreds of workers at a meeting at an auto supplier in a Detroit suburb. An AFL-CIO representative said that the supplier, Drake Enterprises, is a nonunion firm. An inquiry for comments was not immediately answered by the business.

Republicans think Biden’s efforts to electrify America’s fleet of vehicles by funneling billions of dollars in tax breaks into EV production are unpopular with the industry’s workers.

Trump charged Biden of “stabbing” autoworkers in the back in a statement on Tuesday. The U.S. car sector will “annihilate” under Biden’s EV requirement, he said, costing “thousands of autoworkers their jobs.”

Biden was met at the airport by UAW President Shawn Fain, who also gave him a black UAW baseball cap and spoke with him about the union’s worries over the switch to electric vehicles.

Fain hailed Biden’s visit as a “historic moment in time,” accusing CEOs of keeping the profits while leaving employees to “fight for scraps.” Fain responded, “Thank you, Mr. President, for coming to stand up with us. We have faith that the president will represent the working class fairly.

Although his remarks stopped short of an official support for Biden’s reelection campaign, the vice president stated on Tuesday he was unconcerned about it. The insider further stated that Fain does not have any involvement with Trump’s visit and would not be present.

Both candidates will likely refine their pitch for the Michigan election in 2024.

“It sure feels like the general election,” said Dave Urban, a Republican strategist who formerly worked for Trump. “We are a long way from the general election, but it sure feels like the general election.”

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