Biden joins UAW strike lines in potential presidential first
Sitting presidents have typically tried to stay out of active strikes, but Biden's decision to join the picketers comes as he runs for reelection in 2024.
President Joe Biden joined the United Auto Workers picket lines Tuesday in what may be the first time that an incumbent president has joined an active strike 12 days since the union began striking against major U.S. automobile manufacturers.
"You deserve what you've earned and you've earned a hell of a lot more than you get paid now," Biden told workers on the picketlines, according to CNN.
Presidential and labor history experts are unable to remember a time that a sitting president has participated in an ongoing strike, according to The Associated Press. The closest example cited by the wire service was that of Theodore Roosevelt, who invited labor leaders and mine operators to the White House during a 1902 coal strike.
Lawmakers will often show solidarity with unions. For example, on Monday, Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, N.Y., and Cori Bush, Mo., joined the auto union strike in Missouri. During the 2020 Democratic primaries, Biden and other presidential candidates joined casino workers on strike in Las Vegas.
Sitting presidents have typically tried to stay out of active strikes, but Biden's decision to join the picketers comes as he runs for reelection in 2024 and is likely attempting to garner union support as his approval rating remains low. Additionally, earlier this year the union had not yet endorsed Biden, citing concerns about the growth of the electric vehicle industry, according to Axios.
Biden has argued that the automobile companies have not done enough to satisfy union demands, but White House officials have not said whether he supports certain union demands such as 40% wage hikes and full-time pay for a 32-hour work week.
Former President Donald Trump, who is running for election in 2024, is set to speak to union members in Michigan on Wednesday.