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Whitmer says she’s visited picket line, encourages bargaining

Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the Detroit Regional Chamber on her economic plans.
Rick Pluta
Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the Detroit Regional Chamber on her economic plans.

GovernorGretchen Whitmer said Tuesday she has visited striking auto workers on a picket line and urged labor and management to continue bargaining. Whitmer said that she has remained in touch with UAW leaders and auto company executives and is urging them to reach a deal as soon as possible.

“We’ve got a lot riding on these negotiations and that’s why I’m encouraging everyone to stay at the table until they find a solution,” she said following a public appearance in Lansing. She said Michigan is “uniquely impacted the longer that this goes on.”

President Joe Biden joined union picketers last week outside a General Motors facility in Belleville, which is near Detroit. It is the first time a sitting President has joined a picket line.

Workers walked off in targeted strikes at Detroit Three that began in mid-September.

Whitmer, a Democrat, faces the challenge of showing support for her union base while placating auto executives who are making decisions on where to locate new plants. She signed a law in March that repealed the state’s right-to-work law. The repeal was a key policy goal for the state's labor unions and drew the ire of business interests. Whitmer also supports the use of financial incentives to lure factories to the state.

“I do think that workers need to be paid a fair wage,” Whitmer said Tuesday. “We also need to make sure that these companies are competitive and can thrive. At the end of the day, both those things have to be true.”

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Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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