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Trump criticizes UAW leadership amid strike, warns autoworkers’ jobs are moving to China

Former President Donald Trump speaks during an interview with NBC News’ Kristen Welker, Sept. 14, 2023.

Meet the Press | NBCU

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump warned that U.S. autoworkers’ jobs will move to China and accused the United Auto Workers’ leadership of failing its members, thousands of whom went on strike Friday against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.

“The autoworkers will not have any jobs, Kristen, because all of these cars are going to be made in China. The electric cars, automatically, are going to be made in China,” Trump told NBC News’ Kristen Welker in an exclusive, wide-ranging interview set to air Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

“The autoworkers are being sold down the river by their leadership, and their leadership should endorse Trump,” added the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Employees work on a car assembly line at the SAIC General Motors Co. plant in Wuhan, China, May 18, 2022.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Approximately 13,000 U.S. autoworkers stopped making vehicles and went on strike following failed negotiations on a slew of issues, including higher pay.

The strike marked the first time the United Auto Workers union targeted the three automaker titans simultaneously.

Workers walked out at GM’s midsize truck and full-size van assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri; Ford’s Ranger pickup and Bronco SUV plant in Wayne, Michigan; and Stellantis’ Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator plant in Toledo, Ohio.

Read more: Why the United Auto Workers want big raises

Trump specifically criticized UAW President Shawn Fain. “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. Those jobs are all going to be gone, because all of those electric cars are going to be made in China. That’s what’s happening,” Trump said.

Fain has previously said that a second Trump presidency would be a “disaster.” But he has also withheld his endorsement of President Joe Biden.

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain speaks with the media and union members outside the UAW Local 900 headquarters across the street from the Ford Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, Sept. 15, 2023.

Matthew Hatcher | AFP | Getty Images

Speaking from the White House on Friday, Biden said he hopes all parties are able to strike “a win-win agreement.”

“The companies have made some significant offers,” Biden said, adding “But I believe they should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”

Biden said he also respects the right of workers to “use their options under the collective bargaining system.” 

Read more: Biden says record profits should ensure record contracts as UAW strikes Ford, GM and Stellantis plants

Trump has sought to seize the mantle of most fervent China hawk in the U.S. presidential election. He also tried to make Biden’s electric vehicle push a key part of his case against the president.

The crumbling relationship between Washington and Beijing, the world’s two largest economies, intensified under the Trump administration.

Trump placed blame squarely on China for a wide range of grievances, including intellectual property theft, unfair trade practices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden has sought to work consistently with allies in order to mount a more united pushback against China.

Biden has also previously said that during his political career, he has spent more time with Chinese President Xi Jinping than he has with any other world leader.

UAW members go on strike at three key auto plants after deal deadline passes

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