Support for President Donald Trump may be on the fence line, but members of the United Auto Workers Association are wondering if the champion of Michigan's blue-collar workers supports their strike against General Motors as the demonstrations conclude their third week.  Michigan autoworkers are at the center of an ongoing labor dispute that could have implications for Trump's reelection prospects in Midwest battlefield states. Trump reveals the appeal among blue-collar autoworkers as one of the main reasons he became the first Republican to win Michigan in nearly three decades, but he failed to weigh in on the conflict and give Democrats the opportunity to judge a key part of his base. [1
Nearly 50,000 UAW members joined the strikes three weeks ago, continuing as the union is pushing GM to raise wages, reopen closed plants and increase salaries for temporary workers. Each major Democratic candidate quickly stood next to the labor union, while four Democratic primary candidates – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Tim Ryan – visited striking car workers in Michigan.
The president told reporters on the first day of the strike he was "sad to see" the situation and celebrated his "good relationship" with autoworkers. Trump never took sides in the conflict and has not publicly said much else since.
"UAW has been very good to me," Trump said on September 16. " The members have been very good, from the voting point of view. The relationship is good. Hopefully, they will fix it quickly and solidly. ”
Warren and Sanders, who both opposed the company's greed to a central part of their political brand, set a sharper tone in support of striking workers in Michigan. Warren said GM demonstrates a lack of "loyalty" by not sharing its wealth with employees, while Sanders condemned GM for increasing production in Mexico and China when idling to US plants.
Meanwhile, strikers on the picket line outside GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly said Trump's absence is being noticed.
"Instead of everything that happened, he has not been here at all," said Doris Parnell, a 67-year-old retired GM employee. "He has always gone to (outside the counties) where his star supporters are. He has not been out here, he has not publicly said & # 39; I support these workers out there. & # 39;"
But outside of GM Technical The Warren Center told union workers that their support for Trump has not faltered.
"I don't see Democrats ever making any use of any union," said Lee McGuire, a 64-year-old GM employee. "You know I've lived through all this for 40 years and all I have have seen my grandchildren get a decent lifestyle for General Motors and Ford and Chrysler. ”
Voters like McGuire in Macomb County, the state's third largest county, contributed to Trump's victory in 2016.
Former President Barack Obama won Macomb County twice, but Trump turned the GOP's 4-point loss in 2012 into a commanding 12-point victory four years later, Trump won Michigan by just 10,704 votes, but garnered 48,300 votes for victory in Macomb County.
we support each other, we don't necessarily have to agree with our elected officials, "says Mike McKay, a 68-year-old GM grandmother." They have a certain personality they have to maintain. as it used to be. "
The Michigan Democratic Party responded to announced Michigan shutdowns and the impact of steel and aluminum tariffs introduced by the Trump administration as evidence that it failed to fulfill promises to car workers.
The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly is scheduled to close by the end of the year. Production at General Motors' long-standing transmission facility in Warren stopped in July as part of GM's plan to reduce operating costs.
Will Noronn, a 43-year-old GM employee, was transferred to the company's Flint Assembly after announcing plans to idle the Detroit plant. Noronn said Trump failed to fulfill his campaign promises by not interfering with plant closures in Michigan and Ohio.
The president asked autoworkers at Lordstown Assembly in Ohio not to sell their homes in 2017, saying factory jobs would come back to the state. GM announced that it will be idling in the plant in 2018 and the last production day which was completed in March.
"We have many of the (Lordstown) employees who are now in Flint, some of them making the (more than) 200 mile drive back and forth to see the family on the weekends because they can't afford to move yet, "It has been tremendously disastrous because the facility, like Detroit and Flint, has been instrumental in the community."
Most of the major unions, including NEA, SEIU, AFSCME, UFCW and UAW, supported the Democratic Hillary Clinton nominated in Election 2016. Although unionists have long been considered a decisive voting bloc for Democrats, Michigan Republicans suggest that Trump has a unique appeal among them.
"We haven't seen the excitement of autoworkers for a candidate on any side. of the political aisle that we did in 2016, "said Michigan Republican Party leader Terry Bowman, a Ford employee." I've called the (Trump) blue collar billionaire because he speaks the language to Americans every day. He has the ability to see inthe camera to be at a meeting and really focus and connect with the workers who are looking for him for leadership. "
Bowman said that maintaining support from autoworkers is crucial to Trump's re-election hope. He said Trump has nothing to worry about, but the Republican Party in Michigan declined to comment on whether Trump's reluctance to weigh in on the strikes is likely to help or hurt him in 2020.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, said Trump should stay on top of the crisis while addressing the Detroit Economic Club. Dingell was president of the General Motors Foundation and was executive director of corporate and government relations at the company.
"I think this is in many ways about the future of industry in this country," Dingell said. "When Henry Ford started producing here in the country, he said that if you pay a decent salary and you have a strong middle class, it's money that supports our economy. I think politicizing a strike would be a huge mistake and come at a cost to (Trump). "
Trump had less union support than Clinton in 2016, according to Harvard's Cooperative Congressional Election Study, but victory margin was less than former President Barack Obama's in 2012. An estimated 38% of union members voted for Trump in 2016 , but McGuire suspects the number is even higher.
"The UAW is still (telling you) Democrat, Democrat voting," So finding someone who will admit to being Republicans is a little difficult, "McGuire said." Honestly, I'm sitting here talking to the other guys, and it's not one of them talking about democratic politics. "
How to best extend health coverage to millions of uninsured or underinsured Americans r among one of the most important political debates that define the democratic primary. Striking auto workers told MLive that they were largely opposed to the Democrats' Medicare for All plans, regardless of their political affiliation.
Sanders and Warren advocate a one-payer government-controlled approach that would extend Medicare to all Americans. The plans would eliminate the need for private insurance and health care provided by employers.
Matt Kalinowski, a 30-year employee of the GM Technical Center in Warren, worries about the health plan he fought for and sacrificed salary increases for would be replaced with subordinate coverage.
Trump often tells voters that he has kept his promises to autoworkers – renegotiating trade deals, spurring new investments in domestic factories and retaining manufacturing jobs in the United States – regardless of his rocky relationship with union leaders and image makers.
Several UAW members on the strike line said that Trump cannot be pro-labor and anti-union at the same time. Dan Sultana, a 55-year-old employee of Ford Motor Co., said that the president only exploits the car workers' financial anxieties for their own gain.
"Any good trade unionist who supports Donald Trump needs a good education right now," said Sultana. "Donald Trump says what he needs to say when he needs to say it."