DemDaily: UAW Unites Behind Biden

January 26, 2024

The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) endorsed Joe Biden's reelection bid on Wednesday, just four months after he became the first sitting president in US history to join a union picket line.

Biden stood with UAW members in Detroit last September during their historic strike against the country's "Big Three" automakers. The union shut down production plants at General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, which formed when Fiat Chrysler merged with Peugeot in 2021.

The simultaneous, strategically-targeted strikes across Ohio, Missouri and Michigan, led by dynamic UAW President Shawn Fain, resulted in unprecedented contracts, including a 25% base pay increase, cost of living adjustments and other benefits.

Founded in 1935, the UAW boasts over 400,000 union members and 580,000 retirees, with more than 600 local unions and 1,750 contracts with some 1,050 employers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Workplaces range from multinational corporations, small manufacturers and state and local governments to colleges and universities, hospitals and private non-profit organizations.

In a fiery speech at the union's national Community Action Program (CAP) conference in Washington, DC, Fain praised Biden's pro-union record and courage in supporting the strike, saying, "Joe Biden stood with us."

"Joe Biden bet on the American worker while Donald Trump blamed the American worker," said Fain to an impassioned audience. "We need to know who's gonna sit in the most powerful seat in the world and help us win as a united working class. So if our endorsements must be earned, Joe Biden has earned it!" - UAW President Shawn Fain

Like many labor leaders, Fain is fighting to inform the union's blue collar base -- a third of which voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, despite the national union's endorsement of Biden in both elections.

Fain was blunt in his criticism of former President Donald Trump, saying, "Donald Trump stands against everything we stand for as a society," calling him a "scab" who appeared at a non-union hall during last year's strike while Biden was on the line with union members.

Biden joined Fain on stage before hundreds of cheering autoworkers, calling him a "leader with a backbone, a backbone like a ramrod."

Biden also vowed to push back against the outflow of manufacturing jobs to China and touted the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which incentivizes US-based auto manufacturing.

In July, in their earliest-ever endorsement in a presidential election, the General Board of the American Federation of Labor-Council of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) voted to endorse Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris for reelection in 2024.

President Liz Shuler, who leads the umbrella group of 60 national and international labor unions representing 12.5 million members, said, "The largest labor mobilization in history begins reelect a president [we] know has our backs and will always fight for us."

Union members are heavily concentrated in crucial Midwest and Rust Belt swing states which are essential to victory in the 2024 presidential election. Those include the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which Biden narrowly won in 2020.

Traditionally the organizing power in any election, labor has the ability to turnout members in the hundreds of thousands nationwide. Union endorsements also come with significant financial resources. In 2020 labor unions contributed over $1.3 million to the Biden-Harris campaign directly, and invested more than $27.5 million from outside organizations supporting their election.

"Workers who join unions gain power...Workers’ voices are heard and heeded. In a simple word, a union means there is democracy. Democracy. Organizing, joining a union -- that’s democracy in action." - President Joe Biden

The UAW joins, among others, the following unions who have endorsed Biden-Harris:

Actor's Equity Association, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC), Communications Workers of America (CWA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers (IW), International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOP), Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), National Education Association (NEA), National Nurses United (NNU), Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA), UNITE HERE and United Farm Workers (UFW).

DemList will keep you informed.

DemDaily: Strike Summer 9/27/23
DemDaily: Biden Backs UAW 9/15/23
DemDaily: Labor's Day 8/31/23
DemDaily: The Hollywood Revolution 7/19/23
DemDaily: Labor Backs Biden 6/20/23
DemDaily: Hollywood Rallies Around Writers Guild Strike 5/24/23
DemDaily: On Strike! 3/21/23
DemDaily: The Right to Strike 1/12/23

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Reuters, Axios, CNN, UAW, AFL-CIO

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