‘Let me be blunt’: UAW VP for GM has strong words about Trump’s visit to Michigan

The UAW's lead negotiator in contract talks with General Motors on Wednesday issued a scathing assessment of former President Donald Trump hours before Trump was due to speak in Detroit.

UAW Vice President for General Motors Mike Booth sent the Detroit Free Press a profanity-laden email about his thoughts on Trump's trip to Michigan.

"Let me be blunt. Donald Trump is coming off as a pompous (expletive)," Booth said in an email. "Coming to Michigan to speak at a nonunion employer and pretending it has anything to do with our fight at the Big Three is just more verbal diarrhea from the former president."

Trump skipped the second Republican presidential debate to deliver prime-time remarks at Drake Enterprises in Clinton Township, Michigan, a nonunionized auto parts supplier. There, he spoke to workers at the plant blasting electric vehicle mandates and pushing for a "future that protects American labor."

Trump speaks to Michigan autoworkers: Speaking to workers amid UAW strike, Trump blasts Biden, transition to electric vehicles

Negotiator calls Trump's visit disingenuous

Video footage of President Donald Trump in 2017 as shown in the UAW's recent video on plant closings.
Video footage of President Donald Trump in 2017 as shown in the UAW's recent video on plant closings.

Booth's remarks came as he and GM negotiators were due back at the main bargaining table with GM leadership Wednesday afternoon, two sources familiar with the talks told the Detroit Free Press.

Booth said Trump's visit to Detroit is disingenuous given his past. In a video about plant closings that the union released Wednesday morning, 2017 footage shows Trump promising autoworkers in Ohio he would save their jobs. But in 2019 GM closed its Lordstown Assembly plant in northeast Ohio, displacing thousands of workers there and helping lead to the union's 2019 strike against GM.

"Where were his rallies for striking workers when we were on the picket line in 2019? Where are the jobs he promised to return to the U.S. while on the campaign trail in 2015?" Booth said. "The proof is in the pudding. His actions in office went to enrich the very elite few while the working class of America stagnated. This stunt is another ploy to pull the wool over the eyes of the working class. Again!”

UAW union members picket on the street in front of a Stellantis distribution center, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023, in Carrollton, Texas.
UAW union members picket on the street in front of a Stellantis distribution center, Monday, Sept. 25, 2023, in Carrollton, Texas.

As for GM's reaction to Trump's visit, it remained the same as the statement the company provided for President Joe Biden's visit on Tuesday, which is that its focus is not on politics but on bargaining to reach an agreement as quickly as possible.

"We have presented five, record economic proposals that address the areas our team members have said matter most, including wage increases and job security," GM's statement read. "We value our workforce and understand the impact a strike has on our employees, communities and the economy — nobody wins."

Political impact of UAW support

The union's support is crucial for both presidential candidates: Trump and Biden. In 2016, UAW members in Michigan helped Trump win the White House. In 2020, UAW members in Michigan helped Biden take the White House from Trump. That's why both men are courting union support in Michigan.

Striking UAW workers from Local 1753 picket outside the Lansing National Distribution Center on Mt. Hope Highway Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. The GM workers want pay increases and the to end the tiered wage system.
Striking UAW workers from Local 1753 picket outside the Lansing National Distribution Center on Mt. Hope Highway Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. The GM workers want pay increases and the to end the tiered wage system.

Trump hasn't voiced support for the union's demands, unlike Biden, who said the workers deserved a good contract. But Trump has said that UAW workers should reject the automakers' transition to making more electric vehicles. The Biden administration and Democrats have a green agenda and are in favor of EVs.

The union has supported Trump's "new NAFTA" or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It was designed to create more U.S. manufacturing jobs because it mandated that 70% of the steel and aluminum in a car be sourced from North America, and that seven core vehicle parts also meet North American content requirements.

President Joe Biden speaks with workers picketing at General Motors Willow Run Redistribution in Van Buren Township on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, during a stop in Michigan.
President Joe Biden speaks with workers picketing at General Motors Willow Run Redistribution in Van Buren Township on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, during a stop in Michigan.

UAW President Shawn Fain has not endorsed either man for president, saying whoever gets the endorsement must earn it.

In a historic first Tuesday, Biden walked the picket line with striking UAW workers at GM's Willow Run Redistribution Center in Van Buren Township, where the automaker stores and distributes parts. Fain joined Biden, and when asked later on CNN whether Fain would meet Trump on Wednesday, Fain replied: "I see no point in meeting with him," because Trump doesn't care what "the working class stands for."

"In 2019, when he was the president of the United States, where was he then?” Fain said. “Our workers at GM were on strike for two months. … I didn’t see him hold a rally, I didn’t see him on the picket line and I sure as hell didn’t see him comment on it. He was missing in action.”

Contact Jamie L. LaReau: jlareau@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @jlareauan.

Contributing: Arpan Lobo and Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: UAW VP Mike Booth has strong words after Donald Trump’s Michigan visit