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United Auto Workers chief blasts Trump ahead of Michigan visit

The former president is set to deliver prime-time remarks at a manufacturing plant Wednesday night as his primary opponents participate in their second presidential debate.
United Auto Workers President, Shawn Fain with UAW members at a General Motors Service Parts Operations plant in Belleville, Mich.
United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain with union members at a General Motors service parts operations plant in Belleville, Mich., on Tuesday.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images file

United Auto Workers chief Shawn Fain is making clear that he doesn't plan to meet with Donald Trump when the former president visits a manufacturing plant in Michigan on Wednesday as autoworkers maintain their strike.

"I find a pathetic irony that the former president is going to hold a rally for union members at a nonunion business," Fain said in an interview on CNN on Tuesday.

"All you have to do is look at his track record — his track record speaks for itself," he added.

Fain said that during the recession in 2008, Trump blamed UAW members and their contracts "for everything that was wrong with these companies," and he accused Trump of being nonresponsive during a previous major strike.

"The ultimate show of how much he cares about our workers was in 2019 when he was the president of the United States. Where was he then?" Fain said, referring to a General Motors strike in September and October of that year. "They were out there on the picket lines. I didn't see him hold a rally. I didn't see him stand up at the picket line and I sure as hell didn't hear him comment about it. He was missing in action."

When asked if he plans to meet with Trump on Wednesday in Detroit, he said, "I see no point ... because I don't think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for. He serves a billionaire class and that's what's wrong with this country."

Asked if that effectively equates to an endorsement for President Joe Biden, Fain said, "It's not an endorsement for anyone. It's just flat-out how I view the former president."

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment on Fain's remarks.

Trump will fly to Michigan on Wednesday, the 12th day of the UAW's strike, to make remarks to workers at an auto parts plant, which comes a day after Biden made history by joining UAW workers on the picket line.

Trump is not scheduled to be joined by the UAW leadership and not expected to join striking workers on the picket line. Instead, he'll visit the nonunion manufacturing plant, where he's expected to deliver prime-time remarks in front of some union workers. His remarks will come as his GOP primary opponents participate in their second presidential debate, which Trump is skipping, on Wednesday night.

Ahead of Trump's visit, Fain said in a statement, "Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers."

Trump commented on the UAW's leadership during a recent interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," saying, "The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump."

Fain has said a second Trump presidency would be "a disaster," and Trump responded in the NBC interview. “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."