Facts are under assault in 2020.

We can't fight back misinformation about the election and COVID-19 without you. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact

More Info

I would like to contribute

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, ahead of Michigan's March 10 primary. (AP) Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, ahead of Michigan's March 10 primary. (AP)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally at Renaissance High School in Detroit, ahead of Michigan's March 10 primary. (AP)

Monique Curet
By Monique Curet October 20, 2020

Biden had a tense exchange with a factory worker, but what exactly did he say?

If Your Time is short

• In March, Joe Biden got into a verbal spat with a factory worker, telling him he was “full of s---” when the worker accused Biden of trying to take away Second Amendment rights and repeatedly challenged Biden’s responses.

• Later during the same exchange, the worker told Biden, “You’re working for me, man” and Biden either replied, “I’m not working for you,” or stopped short of that, according to differing media accounts.

• Biden pointed at the worker through much of the exchange.

There’s no question that Joe Biden cursed at a factory worker during a March 10 visit to a Fiat Chrysler assembly plant, calling him "full of s---" and telling him not to be a "horse’s a--." The worker had falsely accused Biden of wanting to take away people’s guns.

A Facebook post singles out another snippet of that exchange to paint Biden as a callous public servant.

The Facebook post shows a photo of Joe Biden pointing at the worker face, with the words "I don’t work for you!" superimposed on the photo. The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Biden was visiting the Detroit plant on the day of the Michigan primary when a factory worker accused him of "actively trying to diminish our Second Amendment right and take away our guns," PolitiFact reported. 

Biden replied that he supports the Second Amendment but not assault weapons or high-capacity magazines. The exchange, which took place in a noisy site crowded with workers, turned contentious as the worker repeatedly challenged Biden’s responses, with Biden shouting at times and other workers and aides trying to cut off the exchange. 

At one point, according to media reports, the worker said to Biden, "You’re working for me, man." Biden’s reply was not uniformly reported by the media, and video footage of the incident does not clearly capture all of the dialogue. 

 

Some outlets, including CBS News and The Detroit News, reported that Biden responded, "I’m not working for you. Don’t be such a horse’s a--." Other outlets, including Politico and CNN, reported it slightly differently, quoting Biden as saying, "I’m not working for — gimme a break, man. Don’t be such a horse’s a--." 

CNN’s report was presented more like a transcript of the exchange, while other media accounts appeared to paraphrase it or edit it down. For example, Biden clearly says "give me a break" at the 1-minute mark in the video before saying "don’t be such a horse’s a--." Neither the CBS nor Detroit News article included that phrase. 

The Facebook post includes a photo of Biden pointing his finger at the worker. While video footage shows Biden was pointing at the worker through much of the exchange, at times directly at his face, he wasn’t doing so when he said the words "I’m not working for —." 

Our ruling

A Facebook post suggests Biden told a factory worker, "I don’t work for you!" while pointing a finger at the worker’s face. 

Biden and the worker got into a confrontation over Biden’s proposed gun control policies; the worker falsely accused Biden of wanting to take away people’s guns. While news accounts differ on what words Biden said, the quotes are similar to the phrase attributed to Biden in the Facebook post. Biden was not pointing at the worker during that part of the exchange.

The claim is partly true, but leaves out important details and context. 

We rate this claim Half True.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Monique Curet

Biden had a tense exchange with a factory worker, but what exactly did he say?

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up