DETROIT (WXYZ) - U.S. workers deserve a "fair share" of any improvement in corporate profits, Vice President Joe Biden told hundreds of Detroit-area union members on Monday during his first of several Labor Day stops in the city.
A job is "about your dignity. It's about your place in the community. ... You can't do that unless you get a fair wage," Biden told the crowd gathered on the grounds of the former Tiger Stadium ahead of organized labor's annual parade Monday. He stuck with populist themes, criticizing corporate pay and companies that leave the U. S. for lower taxes.
Workers don't want a handout, Biden said. "Just give them a chance."
Biden was preceded on the stage by labor leaders and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and Gary Peters, the party's nominee for U.S. Senate.
Schauer's biggest applause came when he said he would repeal Michigan's right to work law, which makes union membership voluntary. He called it "right to work for less," meaning it could affect wages.
Marge Robinson, president of SEIU Healthcare Michigan, a union of health workers, said it's time to "strike back" and put Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in the "unemployment line."
It is the second time in three years he has come to Detroit for Labor Day activities. The annual event celebrates the achievements of Michigan's working men and women and the state's labor unions.
After the speech, Biden stopped at a Detroit coffee house, Great Lakes Roasting, for a coffee and a date bar. He gently stroked a baby's head outdoors and talked to many of the college-age customers indoors.
He left a $5 tip after buying a few drinks for others, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
"I'm not going to drink it. I'm going to save it," joked Alexis Zeidan, 22, after the Vice President bought her latte.
Biden last participated in Labor Day events in Michigan in 2012.
"Joe Biden is always welcome in Michigan," Metro Detroit AFL-CIO president Rick Blocker said. He added that the Democratic vice president has "been a strong voice for working families."