Joe Biden's Re-Election Pitch to Unions in Pennsylvania: A Vital Move

President Biden addresses union members in Pennsylvania, seeking their support for re-election. Learn about his pro-labor policies and potential impact on the 2024 elections.

Jun 17, 2023 - 07:19
Jun 17, 2023 - 07:20
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Joe Biden's Re-Election Pitch to Unions in Pennsylvania: A Vital Move
Joe Biden's Re-Election Pitch to Unions in Pennsylvania

President Joe Biden is set to make a significant political maneuver as he addresses union members in Philadelphia this weekend, marking his first campaign rally since officially announcing his bid for re-election. The strategic event aims to strengthen his political coalition and garner support among white working-class voters—a key demographic crucial for his electoral success.

In an unprecedented move, the AFL-CIO, a powerful federation comprising 60 unions representing over 12.5 million workers, has already endorsed Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. This early endorsement, the earliest in the organization's history for a presidential election, reflects their strong support and loyalty. The AFL-CIO is hosting the eagerly anticipated event.

Biden's unwavering commitment to the labor movement is evident in his frequent appearances at union gatherings. Notably, he attended a labor conference in Washington shortly after launching his re-election campaign, underscoring the importance he places on labor support for securing a second term.

Widely acclaimed by labor leaders as the most pro-union president in history, Biden has consistently championed collective bargaining rights, reversed detrimental worker protection policies implemented during the Trump era, and actively sought to reverse the declining trend in union membership. Additionally, he has facilitated the involvement of union labor in crucial infrastructure projects, such as bridge and port construction nationwide.

During the 2020 election, white working-class union voters were divided in their support for Biden. However, many union leaders now confidently state that Biden has won their support.

In the previous election cycle, certain building trades unions, traditionally aligned with the Republican party, refrained from endorsing any candidate due to internal disagreements over whether to back Biden or Donald Trump.

Ryan Boyer, a prominent figure heading the influential Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents 50 unions including boilermakers and steelworkers, unequivocally expresses that Biden's tenure as president has dispelled any doubts among their members about who to support in 2024.

"There is a discernible shift in the electorate this time around," Boyer asserts. "Every labor leader in Philadelphia, worth their salt, acknowledges President Biden's unwavering support for labor. The change is palpable."

The backing of union voters played a pivotal role in Biden's victory in key swing states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan during the 2020 election. As the Democratic Party gears up for the 2024 elections, labor support is expected to be integral to their grassroots operations and overall success.

According to Edison Research, Biden secured 57% of the votes from union households nationwide in 2020, outperforming his opponent, Donald Trump, who garnered 40%.

Despite his strong ties to the labor movement, Biden's presidency has faced some challenges in relation to labor issues. In December, he drew criticism from certain unions for signing legislation aimed at averting a nationwide rail strike. Similarly, the United Auto Workers initially withheld their endorsement of Biden due to concerns surrounding his plans to transition the country toward reliance on electric vehicles.

Seth Harris, a respected law professor at Northeastern University and former top labor policy adviser to President Biden, expresses confidence that the president's ambitious infrastructure, chips, and climate bills—which have created numerous job opportunities for non-college-educated individuals—will successfully sway previously hesitant union members to rally behind Biden's cause.

"The building trades sector represents a substantial group of skilled individuals who have forged successful careers without obtaining a college degree," Harris explains. "President Biden's economic strategy places significant emphasis on supporting men and women in this demographic."

Looking ahead, Harris predicts that Biden will continue to make his case before union audiences in various states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, and more, in the coming months, further solidifying his bond with the labor movement and increasing his chances of securing a second term.

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