GOP Shows Massive Divide Over Striking Auto Workers

GOP Shows Massive Divide Over Striking Auto Workers

( – Historically, the Republican Party has not supported unionization. Many members of the party view it as anti-business and believe the free market should play the ultimate role in pay and benefits. Since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the GOP has heavily supported “right-to-work” laws. As a businessman, former President Donald Trump is among the Conservatives who have not always supported union workers.

However, there’s been a shift. When the United Automobile Workers (UAW) began striking, the former president saw it as an opening to appeal to voters who might not have supported him in the prior elections. Trump took his message to auto workers in Michigan on the night of the second GOP debate. But not all of the Conservatives in the presidential primary field are on the union train with the 45th POTUS.

A Message to Workers

On September 27, Trump held an event at Drake Enterprises, an auto parts supplier in Clinton Township, outside of Detroit. Although the plant is not unionized, the former president spoke to the UAW members who might have been watching him from elsewhere.

Trump told union workers they should convince UAW President Shawn Fain to endorse him. He called the union leader “a good man” but said, “he’s got to endorse Trump.” He went on to say, “Just get your union guys, your leaders, to endorse me and I will take care of the rest.”

The former president told the workers that they loved and built America, and now they are the “ones that make this country run.” He said he had “risked it all to defend the working class” from the elitists, and he was there speaking to them because he supports “economic nationalism.”

Republicans Address Strike at Debate

While Trump was trying to appeal to union workers and promising to stop electric cars from destroying their industry, the candidates at the debate were not as interested in appealing to the unions.

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) criticized strikers. He’d previously applauded President Reagan’s hardline approach to strikes when he fired air traffic controllers in 1981 for carrying out a similar demonstration. At the debate, the GOP candidate said he understands he wouldn’t be able to fire private workers as president, but he said their demands for four-day work weeks and more money “is simply not going to stand.”

Vivek Ramaswamy said he doesn’t “have a lot of patience for union bosses” but is sympathetic to the workers. Mike Pence pledged his support for workers through anti-union, right-to-work laws.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has called herself a “union buster” as recently as the week before the debate. But, when she was on the stage, she claimed she wanted to “get more cash in the pockets of workers.”

While none of the candidates, including Trump, will likely get the UAW’s endorsement, they could convince rank-and-file workers to vote for them — that’s most important.

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