The leader of the United Automobile Workers union ruled out meeting former President Donald J. Trump, the 2024 Republican front-runner, when he visits Michigan on Wednesday, casting him as an out-of-touch billionaire who has been hostile toward the industry’s workers, who are currently on strike.
When Shawn Fain, the U.A.W. president, was asked by CNN in an interview on Tuesday whether he would be open to such an audience with Mr. Trump, he said that there was no upside.
“I see no point in meeting with him because I don’t think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for,” Mr. Fain said. “He serves a billionaire class, and that’s what’s wrong with this country.”
His remarks came just hours after President Biden, at the invitation of Mr. Fain, joined a picket line outside a General Motors facility in Belleville, Mich., near Detroit.
Mr. Trump’s campaign did not comment directly on Mr. Fain’s criticism on Wednesday, but suggested that there was a disconnect between the union’s leadership and the striking workers it represents.
Mr. Fain stopped short of endorsing Mr. Biden’s re-election, but he had harsh words for Mr. Trump and his planned speech at a nonunion plant in Macomb County, Mich.
“I find a pathetic irony that the former president is going to hold a rally for union members at a nonunion business,” Mr. Fain said.
Mr. Fain said that Mr. Trump had blamed U.A.W. members and their contracts for the troubles of automakers during the 2008 recession. As a presidential candidate in 2015, he added, Mr. Trump supported moving jobs in the industry out of the Midwest, with fewer protections for union workers. Mr. Fain also asked why the former president did not show solidarity with General Motors workers in 2019, while Mr. Trump was in office, when they were on strike for 60 days.
“I didn’t see him hold a rally,” Mr. Fain said. “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.”