Visits by President Biden, Trump to UAW workers this week underscore significance of strike

As the United Auto Workers strike against Detroit's Big Three enters its second week, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are both planning visits to Michigan to show their support for the union.

Now 11 days into the UAW ‘stand-up strike', over 18,000 workers having walked off the job so far. That represents a little more than 10% of the UAW's force – but that number could grow in the coming weeks.

As the stakes of the strike grow, so will the pressure from national figures as the fiscal shock from the strike begins rippling around the economy and into customers' wallets. It's also cutting into the balance books of Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis - each of which have needed to temporarily lay off non-UAW workers due to the strike. 

At the heart of the dispute is how much can the union receive in its negotiations.

"We're fighting for our future, we're fighting for these jobs, we're fighting for a fair contract," said Jason Craig, one picketing UAW member. "No more, no less."

A sign that it's not just Detroit with interest in seeing how the strike proceeds, visits by Biden and Trump this week underscore the significance that America's car economy represents to the country. 

Related: Striking UAW members have mixed reaction on visits from Biden, Trump

"There’s never been an American United States president that’s ever walked the picket line in the history of the U.S. so we’re super excited and we hope he comes out and supports our cause," said Craig.

Biden is expected to walk the picket line with workers on Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, Trump, who is running for president in 2024 and is seen by many as the candidate with the best odds of scoring the Republican Party's nomination, will be in Clinton Township Wednesday, where he'll address approximately 500 UAW members.

MORE: What can we expect from the UAW strike this week?

He's hoping to drum up support for himself in a state he lost in the last election. Michigan is seen as a key group of electoral votes that has been necessary to win in the past two presidential elections. 

However, the UAW president has poured cold water on support for Trump. Some members agree.

"We support Biden coming here, Mr. Trump - he can just leave us alone," said Jimmy Angyl, another UAW member. "We’re not asking him to come out here and support us."

The two-day affair looks a bit like a zoomed-in version of the coming battle for who can win Michigan and the general election next year.