UAW strike puts Trump, GOP in a political bind

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Business - By DAVID EGGERT and SARA BUR­NETT

LANS­ING, Mich. — 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.

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.

The muted re­sponse re­flects the tricky pol­i­tics of la­bor for Repub­li­cans.

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, who Trump ar­gues are cor­rupt.

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.

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date El­iz­a­beth War­ren planned to show up on the picket line in Michi­gan on Sun­day, with ri­val Bernie San­ders ex­pected this com­ing week. Nearly all the can­di­dates have tweeted sup­port for the work­ers.

“Proud to stand with @ UAW to de­mand fair wages and ben­e­fits for their mem­bers. Amer­ica’s work­ers de­serve bet­ter,” Joe Bi­den tweeted. 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.

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