UAW president blasts Trump's planned speech to union members on GOP debate night

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Donald Trump has no intention of debating his Republican challengers in the presidential primary. He has made that abundantly clear. Trump thinks he doesn’t have to act like a regular candidate because he is so far ahead in the polls.


The former president plans to skip the second RNC debate, just as he did the first one. The second one is scheduled for next week at the Reagan Presidential Library. Trump’s excuse for not participating is that the audience at the event will be smaller than that of other debates. Also, Fred Ryan is the publisher and chief executive officer of The Washington Post. Ryan is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation and Institute. Ryan is leaving the Washington Post, as it turns out, to start the new Reagan civility center. Nonetheless, Trump is using Ryan as his excuse not to do the debate. He finds the Ryan-Reagan Library Foundation connection a deal breaker.

Trump plans alternate events at the same time as the event he does not want to do and this one is no exception. For reasons I don’t understand, Trump plans to deliver a speech to UAW members in Detroit at the same time as the RNC debate. During the first RNC debate last month, Trump pre-taped an interview with Tucker Carlson and that ran during the debate. Interestingly, the Carlson interview didn’t get the kind of buzz normally attached to a Trump interview. All the attention went to the debate.


The question is whether or not a speech to the UAW is a great idea. I don’t think it will get much play because most people will be tuning into the debate if they are interested in the GOP primary race. It’s true that some union members are beginning to vote Republican but not enough to cancel out all the union members voting for Democrats. Independent voters are still not interested in voting for Trump in 2024. This audience seems like an odd choice. He no doubt wants to get into the mix with the ongoing strike but the UAW president says Trump is a billionaire and of the class of people the union members are fighting against. By this logic, Biden should be disqualified from their support, too.

United Auto Workers Union President Shawn Fain released a statement about the upcoming speech. Don’t look for him to extend a red carpet for Trump’s arrival.

“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,” Fain wrote.

“We can’t keep electing millionaires and billionaires that don’t have any understanding of what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck,” Fain wrote about Trump, “and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.”


The union is on strike and demanding shorter work weeks, improved benefits, and higher wages. The strike may spread to other plants across the country, if necessary.

Trump no doubt senses an opportunity to reach out to the strikers for support in his re-election campaign. Will it make a difference?

But Trump’s union rally is no sure bet. He has repeatedly criticized the popular Fain, a surprise winner of the union’s recent leadership election after running an aggressive campaign that captured the anti-establishment zeitgeist of the UAW workers. Yet Trump has told union members that the UAW president doesn’t hold their best interests at heart.

“The auto workers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” this week.

Trump said that the union should completely reject the Biden administration’s push toward electric vehicles as “non-negotiable.”

The truth is that the union workers have no say in the transition to EVs by automakers. That is based on customer demand. The union members are rightfully concerned about their jobs. Jobs will be lost as more plants move to EVs because they require less labor.


The union president’s harsh words to Trump are no surprise. In May, Fain sent a letter to union membership describing a second Trump presidency as a “disaster.”

Fain also isn’t taken with Biden. He has praised Biden at times but he criticizes Biden for failing to do more to help autoworkers. The UAW always supports Democrats in presidential races and Biden could use their endorsement, given his low polling numbers. Fain has not provided Biden with an endorsement yet. I’m sure that when push comes to shove, Biden will receive the endorsement. It’s ironic that the president who boasts of being the most pro-union president ever is having difficulty getting this union’s support.

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