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With UAW strikes set to expand, Trump says fight won't matter because automakers will be 'out of business'

Despite attacking UAW leadership, Trump still says he wants the union's endorsement.

Former President Donald Trump brought his campaign to Michigan on Wednesday night to ostensibly rally auto workers. But, while the United Auto Workers (UAW) union made plans to expand its strike on Friday, his message wasn't what many workers wanted to hear.

Speaking at Drake Enterprises, which oddly enough is non-union parts maker, Trump said he supported the UAW’s goal of securing higher wages, but that in the end it would not really matter.

"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 said to an at times oddly silent audience.

Former President Donald Trump speaks in Clinton Township, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Mike Mulholland)
Former President Donald Trump speaks in Clinton Township, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. (Mike Mulholland/AP Photo) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Trump said union leadership was selling the auto workers out, claiming that the White House’s forced transition to electric vehicles was going to kill good paying auto jobs. “They're going to be closing up and they're going to be building those cars in China and other places. It's a hit job in Michigan, and on Detroit,” Trump said.

Nonetheless, Trump still wanted the UAW’s backing and mentioned his desire for it several times during the speech. “Tell your UAW leaders — no problems with them — but they have to endorse Trump,” he said.

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign issued a statement during Trump’s speech, condemning his attacks on Biden’s initiatives such as the Inflation Reduction Act and incentives for EVs.

A supporter is interviewed before former President Donald Trump speaks in Clinton Township, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. Trump will be in battleground Michigan working to win over blue-collar voters in the midst of an autoworkers’ strike. Trump's trip on Wednesday comes as his Republican challengers gather onstage in California for their second primary debate. (AP Photo/Mike Mulholland)
Making the UAW great again? A supporter is interviewed before former President Donald Trump speaks in Clinton Township, Mich., Wednesday, Sept. 27. (Mike Mulholland/AP Photo) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

"Donald Trump is lying about President Biden's agenda to distract from his failed track record of trickle-down tax cuts, closed factories, and jobs outsourced to China," the Biden campaign said in a statement.

The UAW did not issue any new statements following Trump’s speech on Wednesday night, though union head Shawn Fain had strong words prior to Trump’s visit.

“I see no point in meeting with him because I don’t think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for,” Fain said to CNN on Tuesday. “[Trump] serves a billionaire class and that’s what’s wrong [with] this country.”

As for the UAW strikes, a source confirms to Yahoo Finance that Fain will expand his "stand up" strike strategy this Friday at 10 a.m. ET if no major progress has been made in its talks with the Big Three. (A "stand up" strike is one in which only some union members hit the picket lines.)

Last Friday Fain and the UAW expanded their strikes to 38 GM and Stellantis parts and distribution facilities, sparing Ford because the UAW said it had made some progress with the Dearborn-based automaker. The UAW confirmed late Wednesday night that Fain would be making an address via Facebook live at 10 a.m. ET.

Despite the threat of more strikes, negotiations continue with the Big Three. CBS News reported that Fain was scheduled to meet with GM negotiators yesterday afternoon, and that both sides have been negotiating.

United Auto Workers (UAW) President, Shawn Fain addresses picketing UAW members at a General Motors Service Parts Operations plant in Belleville, Michigan, on September 26, 2023, as US President Joe Biden joined the workers. Some 5,600 members of the UAW walked out of 38 US parts and distribution centers at General Motors and Stellantis at noon September 22, 2023, adding to last week's dramatic worker walkout. According to the White House, Biden is the first sitting president to join a picket line. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Just say no to Trump: United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain addresses picketing UAW members at a General Motors Service Parts Operations plant in Belleville, Mich., on Sept. 26. (Jim WATSON / AFP) (JIM WATSON via Getty Images)

Ford also confirms that talks are ongoing. “Negotiations continue. Our focus remains on working diligently with the UAW to reach a deal that rewards our workforce and enables Ford to invest in a vibrant and growing future,” the company said in a statement.

The investor community and Wall Street have been trying to game-plan the UAW’s stand up strike strategy, and how long a strike could last. Today marks the 14th day of the strike.

"UAW’s selective strike strategy targets plants producing mid-sized SUVs, focusing on facilities with average daily outputs of 900-1,100 units, carefully balancing the union’s sustainability against the automakers' potential losses," Third Bridge analyst Shoggi Ezeizat said in a note earlier this week. “Our experts estimate a strike duration of 2-4 weeks, citing that prolonged action risks economic repercussions on local economies. Public support and political tolerance for the strike are expected to wane, hastening negotiations."

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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