Trump criticizes UAW leadership amid strike, warns auto workers' jobs are moving to China

Donald Trump and Kristen Welker

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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump warned that U.S. auto workers’ jobs will move to China and accused the United Auto Workers’ leadership of failing its members, thousands of whom went on strike Friday against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.

“The auto workers will not have any jobs, Kristen, because all of these cars are going to be made in China. The electric cars, automatically, are going to be made in China,” Trump told NBC News’ Kristen Welker in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview set to air Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

“The auto workers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump,” the Republican presidential frontrunner added.

Employees wearing masks work on a car assembly line at the SAIC General Motors Co. The SAIC General Motors Wuhan Branch has resumed production following epidemic prevention and control rules.

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Approximately 13,000 U.S. auto workers stopped making vehicles and went on strike following failed negotiations on a slew of issues, including higher pay.

The strike marked the first time the United Auto Workers union targeted the three automaker titans simultaneously.

Workers walked out at GM’s midsize truck and full-size van assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri; Ford’s Ranger pickup and Bronco SUV plant in Wayne, Michigan; and Stellantis’ Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Read more: Why the United Auto Workers want big raises

Trump specifically criticized UAW president Shawn Fain. “I think he’s not doing a good job in representing his union, because he’s not going to have a union in three years from now. Those jobs are all going to be gone, because all of those electric cars are going to be made in China. That’s what’s happening,” Trump said.

Fain has previously said that a second Trump presidency would be a “disaster.” But he has also withheld his endorsement of President Joe Biden.

UAW (US Auto Workers) president Shawn Fain speaks with members of the media and members of the UAW outside of the UAW Local 900 headquarters across the street from the Ford Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan on September 15, 2023. 

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Speaking from the White House, Biden said on Friday that he hopes all parties are able to strike “a win-win agreement.”

“The companies have made some significant offers,” Biden said, adding “But I believe they should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”

Biden said that he also respected the right of workers to “use their options under the collective bargaining system.” 

Read more: Biden says record profits should ensure record contracts as UAW strikes Ford, GM and Stellantis plants

Trump has sought to seize the mantle of the most fervent China hawk in the U.S. presidential election. He also tried to make Biden’s electric vehicle push a key part of his case against the president.

The crumbling relationship between Washington and Beijing, the world’s two largest economies, intensified under the Trump administration.

Trump placed blame squarely on China for a wide range of grievances, including intellectual property theft, unfair trade practices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden has sought to work conscientiously with allies in order to mount a more united pushback against China.

He has also previously said that during his political career, he has spent more time with Chinese President Xi Jinping than any other world leader.

UAW members go on strike at three key auto plants after deal deadline passes

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