GOP Is in a Bind on One Issue

That issue involves striking General Motors workers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 21, 2019 2:45 PM CDT
On One Issue, GOP Is in a Bind
United Auto Workers protest signs lean against the fence at GM Powertrain in Bay City, Mich., on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.   (Kaytie Boomer/The Bay City Times via AP)

Democrats were quick to back working-class United Auto Workers in their strike against General Motors, delivering doughnuts and holding picket signs outside factories to show solidarity. It's a union they long have aligned with politically. There were no doughnuts from Republicans, the AP reports. Led by President Donald Trump, GOP officials have largely avoided taking sides in the strike that threatens to upend the economy in Michigan, an election battleground, a year before the 2020 vote. Both here and nationally, most Republicans said little about the substance of the dispute beyond hope for a speedy resolution. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are expected to support strikers on the picket line, but Republicans' muted response reflects the trickiness of labor politics.

Trump has made inroads with members of some unions, due partly to promises to get tough on trade and keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. The message pulled key voters away from their Democratic union bosses, but a strike prompted in part over GM's plan to close American plants highlights Trump's unfulfilled promises on manufacturing and gives Democrats a chance to play up their union credentials. So Trump is in a bind: Backing the union would undermine Trump's message that labor does not advocate for its workers and give a powerful Democratic force a boost before an election. Siding with GM would call into question his promises to defend workers and he would risk getting blamed for economic woes in Rust Belt states he needs to win reelection.

(More labor unions stories.)

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