UAW president criticizes Trump but says union not yet endorsing Biden

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The head of the United Auto Workers on Monday criticized Republican former President Donald Trump but said the union has not yet made a presidential endorsement decision.

UAW President Shawn Fain declined to comment on reports that President Joe Biden may address members of the union in Washington later this week during a legislative conference or issue its endorsement.

Fain told reporters his personal view of Trump’s track record “and who he is as a person … is pretty much contrary to everything we stand for.” Fain said the UAW would hold formal discussions on its endorsement “and then we’ll go from there.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The White House declined to comment on whether Biden planned to address the UAW this week.

Winning the support of autoworkers could be crucial in the November presidential election in swing states like Michigan.

Biden, a Democrat, has strongly backed the UAW’s efforts to unionize carmakers Tesla, Toyota and other automakers, and joined UAW workers on the picket line in Michigan during the strikes against targeted Detroit Three automakers facilities.

Fain criticized the focus on issues like the U.S. border instead of unfairness in the economy, urging workers to quit “letting the wealthy divide us over single issues — border security and whatever else — and focus on what matters. It’s putting food on your table, having shelter and having a life.”

Fain previously praised Biden administration officials for helping the union win new contract agreements with the Detroit Three automakers and ensure battery plant workers get higher wages. In May, Fain said the union was not ready to endorse Biden for a second four-year term, citing concerns about EV policies.

Trump has criticized Fain and the Biden administration’s EV policies, saying they threaten autoworkers’ jobs, while the Biden administration has touted more than $150 billion in new planned electric vehicle and battery plant investments.

Fain on Monday touted last year’s UAW’s record-setting contracts with the Detroit Three automakers, disclosing that agreements signed by automakers to reimburse striking autoworkers for lost wages were titled “Terms of Surrender.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)