We have some clarity about how one of the country's larger unions, and one of the most powerful forces in the auto industry, will flex its political muscles ahead of this year's presidential election.
United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams spoke to reporters about the candidates and other issues, as reported by Bloomberg, and the takeaway is that the UAW won't be supporting Donald Trump primarily over his comments about shifting jobs away from manufacturing-intensive states like Ohio and Michigan in favor of lower-wage states, and about closing vehicle and supplier manufacturing plants.
Williams said that Trump's position would hurt middle-class workers by effectively lowering their wages – and preserving higher wages for workers is an important pillar for the UAW.
Williams also said that Bill Clinton's support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, won't diminish Hillary Clinton in the eyes of the union. "He made a bad mistake with NAFTA," Williams said. "It has been very harmful to us. I don't blame Hillary. That was Bill."
The UAW says it won't make an endorsement of Clinton until she locks up the nomination, but given the union's opinion of Trump it seems like a foregone conclusion.
The UAW has been critical of Trump for a while now. Back in August, Williams called Trump "an enemy ... of the middle class" for comments about reducing wages and closing plants in Michigan. While the UAW is no longer as powerful as it once was, its potential endorsement of Clinton and the ability to encourage its membership to support her could convince other unions currently withholding their endorsements, like the AFL-CIO, to jump on the Clinton bandwagon.