In a big boost to President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, the United Auto Workers has endorsed Biden unanimously, with union president Shawn Fain sharing some other choice words for Republican front-runner Donald Trump.
In September, Biden picked up a bullhorn and spoke to striking UAW members outside a plant in Michigan, becoming the first sitting president to walk a picket line. A day later, Trump spoke about the strike at a non-union car parts plant in Michigan. He criticized the UAW for not endorsing him and claimed that U.S. autoworkers would lose their jobs if the country made the shift from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles.
Biden gave his full support to the UAW when the union went on strike against the Big Three automobile companies. The six-week strike ended in late October with union members winning pay and cost-of-living raises that will top 30% by the end of the four-and-a-half-year deal. Biden later celebrated the victory with UAW members in Illinois.
Fain has not been shy about comparing what Biden has done for working-class Americans compared to Trump, going on Fox News to make his case:
On Wednesday, Fain told the biannual UAW conference in Washington, D.C., that “we face a major choice as a society” in 2024.
“I know some people want to ignore this election; they don’t want to have anything to do with politics. Other people want to argue endlessly about the latest headline or scandal or stupid quote. Elections aren’t about picking your best friend for the job, or the candidate who makes you feel good. Elections are about power.”
“Donald Trump is a scab. Donald Trump is a billionaire, and that’s who he represents. If Donald Trump ever worked in an auto plant, he wouldn’t be a UAW member. He’d be a company man, trying to squeeze the American autoworker. Donald Trump stands against everything the UAW stands for. When you go back to our core issues — Wages. Retirement. Health care. Time. That’s what this election is about.”
Before introducing Biden, Fain said: “Joe Biden bet on the American worker while Donald Trump blamed the American worker. We need to know who’s going to sit in the most powerful seat in the world and help us win as a united working class. So if our endorsement must be earned, Joe Biden has earned it.”
Biden thanked the UAW for its endorsement, and told the conference:
“Together, we’re proving what I have always believed. Wall Street did not build America, the middle class built America, and the unions built the middle class. … I kept my commitment to be the most pro-union president ever. … Let me just say I’m honored to have your back and you have mine. That’s the deal. It comes down to seeing the world the same way, it’s not complicated.”
Biden touted his economic program which he said has brought a low unemployment rate, reduced inflation, and increased consumer confidence. And he took a shot at Trump by noting that his rival is “the only president other than Herbert Hoover who lost jobs when he was president.”
Biden added: “Let me tell you something I learned a long time ago. If I’m going to be in a fight, I want to be in the fight with you, the UAW. We have a big fight in front of us. We are fundamentally changing the economy of this country, and everybody’s getting a little worried about it, the very powerful. … The people are going to get their fair share. You have earned it.”
During Biden’s speech, a few protesters waved a Palestinian flag and shouted “ceasefire now.” referring to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. The audience began shouting “UAW, UAW” to drown out the protesters as security removed them from the room.
The New York Times wrote that Fain said that “Mr. Biden’s economic message was breaking through to rank-and-file members, but added that the union would ‘have to do better’ to combat what he said was misinformation about Mr. Biden’s achievements.”
And ABC News described the significance of the UAW endorsement in the upcoming presidential election, saying, “The backing of the Michigan-based UAW, with more than 400,000 members, could give Biden an edge in a key battleground state that has helped determine the last two political elections. He won Michigan by about 150,000 votes in 2020; Trump won it by about 10,000 votes four years earlier.”