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Biden to highlight support for unions and meet with UAW president after strike


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will travel to Illinois on Thursday to emphasize his support for unions, tout the reopening of a Stellantis plant and meet with United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain and union members on the heels of weekslong strike against the three major U.S. automakers.

Biden will deliver remarks in the afternoon on “his commitment to delivering for working families and creating good-paying union jobs,” the White House said.

The plant’s reopening will help highlight Biden’s commitment to “rehiring and retooling the EV and EV battery jobs in the same communities where auto jobs have created good-paying union jobs for decades,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday, previewing the trip. The plant had been idled early this year.

Biden’s visit to Belvidere, northwest of Chicago, comes after the UAW came to an agreement with General Motors, Ford and Stellantis. The White House and Fain have touted the Stellantis plant’s reopening as the result of the tentative agreement between the UAW and the company, which owns Chrysler.

The White House said the factory’s reopening will bring back “more than all of the 1,200 jobs lost, and at higher wages.” The company is also adding about 1,000 new union jobs because Stellantis is investing in new battery manufacturing, the White House said.

Biden frequently highlights unions in his economy speeches, claiming he is the “most pro-union president” in history. He visited a UAW picket line in Michigan early in the autoworkers’ strike, becoming the first sitting president to do so.

“You saved the automobile industry back in 2008 and before,” Biden said in remarks on the picket line in September. “You made a lot of sacrifices. You gave up a lot, and the companies were in trouble. But now they’re doing incredibly well. And guess what? You should be doing incredibly well too.”

The UAW strike started in mid-September as union members worked to negotiate contracts with automakers Stellantis, Ford and General Motors. The union was ultimately able to negotiate contracts that would provide union members with increased pay and reinstate cost-of-living adjustments, among other benefits.

The visit comes just a day after a tentative agreement was reached between the actors union SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, potentially ending a monthslong actors strike that along with a writers strike, ground Hollywood to a halt. The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is a trade group that bargains for studio and streaming services and represents Comcast, which owns NBC News.

“When both sides come to the table to negotiate in earnest, they can make businesses stronger and allow workers to secure pay and benefits that help them raise families and retire with dignity,” Biden said in a statement celebrating the tentative agreement.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.