Never fear, Uncle Joe on his way to join the picket line in Michigan

UAW leader Shawn Fain invited President Biden to come down and join a picket line. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to see Biden do it sometime soon. Well, it happened even quicker than I expected. Joe Biden has committed to joining a picket line.

From CNN:

Joe Biden announced late Friday that he will be visiting the United Auto Workers union’s picket lines to show support for striker. It will be a first for any president.

Gavin Strassel, the UAW Archivist at Wayne State University in Detroit, said he can’t recall any president ever visiting the picket lines for any UAW strike in the past.

“I’ve been through many photos, and I’ve seen pictures of Lyndon Johnson meeting with [former UAW President Walter] Reuther, or presidents attending Labor Day events with the union,” he said. “But I don’t know of any photos of presidents visiting a picket line. And I think I would know if there was one.”

The NY Times is also reporting that this is unprecedented:

There is little to no precedent for a sitting president joining striking workers on a picket line.

Seth Harris, a former top labor policy adviser for Mr. Biden, said he was not aware of any president walking a picket line before.

“This president takes seriously his role as the most pro-union president in history,” Mr. Harris said. “Sometimes that means breaking precedent.”

It took Biden two years as president to finally visit the border in the midst of a crisis, but it only took him about 6 hours to commit to joining a UAW picket line after he was invited.

Standing on a picket line with one side of the negotiations is pretty clearly at odds with a “win-win” agreement. He’s literally rooting for one side. That’s what this means. Folks on the left are celebrating.

The Times reports Biden made the decision today but does that mean this was an impulse decision or was it something that had been discussed for days and he finally pulled the trigger today? Either way, the timing of his visit is very intentional. Biden will arrive in Michigan on Tuesday, one day before former President Trump was set to deliver a speech there. 

In fact, this idea was proposed Wednesday in an MSNBC opinion piece by Paul Waldman:

While other Democrats are flocking to join UAW members at rallies and on the picket lines, Biden has stayed away, and frustration is growing among both union advocates and progressives over what looks like a White House effort to remain mostly neutral in negotiations.

But as Florence Reece sang, you can’t be neutral. What is Biden worried about — that if he supports the UAW too strongly, corporate leaders will criticize him? That’s exactly what he should want. He should literally stand with the union, right on their picket lines, and say loudly and repeatedly that his opponents are the enemy of workers everywhere.

There’s little reason to doubt where Biden’s heart is. His long advocacy for labor is sincere. And he can rightly point to the many ways his administration has advanced the cause of labor. But there are moments when you have to show people, in the most visible way possible, which side you’re on. This is one of those moments, and it would be a tragedy if Biden missed the opportunity.

This followed previously published concerns from Democrats that Biden was being outfoxed by Trump.

From Politico:

Democrats close to the White House said they saw Trump’s trip as a plainly cynical ploy to gain political advantage from the current United Auto Workers strike at three plants. But they also worry it is a sign that the ex-president had a more sophisticated campaign than in previous cycles — and that Biden’s operation needs to step it up.

A union adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to offer a blunt evaluation, said Trump “is still himself and will say and do crazy shit.” But, the person added, “he actually has people who know what they’re doing. He boxed Biden in. It was kinda genius.”

So, again, I’m not so sure this was spontaneous as it was a calculated effort to get Biden out of that box.

Biden was already scheduled to fly to California on Tuesday. Will he find a picket line to join there as well in support of the writers strike? Really, if you’re going to cross this line, you might as well go all the way, right? That would make sense, but I wonder if he will. Jill Biden will be in LA on Saturday for a fundraiser with wealthy Hollywood bigwigs.


First Lady Jill Biden is heading to Los Angeles for a fundraising event Saturday, as her husband’s presidential campaign ups its outreach to donors in advance of the end-of-the-month reporting deadline.

The reception for the Biden Victory Fund will be held at the Beverly Hills home of Daphna Ziman, co-founder and president of Cinémoi USA and the founder of Children Uniting Nations. Tickets start at $6,600 and rise to $50,000 for co-chairs, according to the invite. The money is split among Biden’s reelection campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state parties.

It might be a little awkward for Joe to join a Hollywood picket line right after his wife collects money from the folks on the other side of the table. I guess we’ll see.

The best part, for both Biden and the unions, is that the impact of this won’t be felt for a while. These new contracts could be a disaster for the Big Three, but not this year. If there are negative outcomes for these companies, such as the inability to earn a profit, they’ll be felt months or years later by which point the connection to unions and Biden won’t be so obvious.

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