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UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

The United Auto Workers of America endorsed the re-election of President Joe Biden Wednesday, just months after he became the first sitting U.S. president to walk a picket line with striking autoworkers in Michigan.

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
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Joe Biden at Detroit Auto Show
FILE - President Joe Biden listens during a tour at the Detroit Auto Show, Sept. 14, 2022, in Detroit. From left, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, Biden and Ray Curry, President of the United Auto Workers. The Biden administration on Wednesday, Oct. 19, awarded $2.8 billion in grants to build and expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles in 12 states. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON — The United Auto Workers of America endorsed the re-election of President Joe Biden Wednesday, just months after he became the first sitting U.S. president to walk a picket line with striking autoworkers in Michigan.

Speaking at the UAW’s biannual political conference in Washington, D.C., Biden told the crowd “I was so damn proud to stand on that picket line with you” — a moment that seemed to lock in the union’s coveted endorsement, crucial in the swing state of Michigan.

The president delivered the keynote address to hundreds of UAW leaders one day after winning a write-in campaign in the New Hampshire primary, where former President Donald Trump scored a second win for the Republican side.

“If I’m gonna be in a fight, I want to be in a fight with you, the UAW,” Biden told the crowd at the Marriott Marquis in downtown D.C. “I mean it, we have a big fight in front of us. We’re fundamentally changing the economy of this country, and everybody’s getting a little worried about it, the very powerful.”

In a rousing endorsement speech to his members, UAW President Shawn Fain laid out a binary scenario for November.

“Rarely as a union do you get so clear of a choice between two candidates,” Fain said at the conference themed “Stand Up For Our Future,” a nod to the union’s historic “Stand Up” strike in September against the nation’s three big automakers.

“It’s not about who you like, it’s not about your party, it’s not about this b—– about age. It’s not about anything but our best shot at taking back power for the working class,” Fain said.

“Donald Trump is a scab,” Fain said to loud applause and whistling. “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,” Fain said.

The union’s board voted unanimously to endorse Biden, Fain told reporters after the event.

When asked if he spoke to Trump before issuing the endorsement, Fain said he didn’t think there was a need.

“Because I know what he said, I know what his track record has been. And he has never stood for working class people. And, you know, talk is cheap, actions speak louder. We saw what he did prior to being president. We saw what he did when he was president, and what he continues to do.”

Biden’s support of UAW strikers

UAW workers walked off the job in September after contract negotiations with Ford Motor Company, Stellantis and General Motors collapsed. The labor dispute stretched across more than 20 states, with Michigan at the epicenter.

Fain invited Biden to address the striking workers on Sept. 26 in the Detroit suburb of Belleville, where the president told them, “You deserve what you’ve earned, and you’ve earned a hell of a lot more than what you’re getting paid now.”

Trump delivered remarks a day later at a non-unionized auto parts manufacturer in Macomb County, an event he planned to counter the second televised Republican presidential debate.

There he asked for support, saying “hopefully your leaders at the United Auto Workers will endorse Donald Trump,” despite the event being unaffiliated with the labor organization.

Fain and Biden on Wednesday both recounted the former president’s speech at the non-union location during one of the largest labor strikes in recent U.S. history.

The strike ended in November after the union struck agreements with the three big automakers.

Fain also faulted Trump for what he described as disparaging comments about the recovery of the auto industry after the 2008 financial collapse and said Trump “stood by” as the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, closed in 2019.

“Instead of talking trash about our union, Joe Biden stood with us,” Fain said.

The UAW leader told reporters that he expects his membership to engage in political actions like rallying, door knocking and phone banking in the coming year.

Israel-Hamas

When asked if he had concerns about Biden not calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, Fain said “the alternative’s even worse. Trump moved the (Israeli) embassy when he was president. Obviously he’s not going to do anything.”

The UAW has formally called for a ceasefire, and Fain said the union will continue to do so.

A handful of protesters unfurled a Palestinian flag and shouted “ceasefire now” during Biden’s speech Wednesday. Biden paused briefly as large swaths of the crowd began shouting “UAW” to drown out the protesters as security escorted them out of the room.

Fain said he was not concerned about members “exercising their voice.” It was the second day in a row that protesters interrupted a Biden event.

Other union endorsements

In addition to the UAW’s endorsement, Biden has picked up several others, including from the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the United Farm Workers, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of Teachers.

As of Wednesday evening Trump’s campaign had not released a statement in response to the UAW’s endorsement of Biden.

However, the campaign released images of September posts on X by @TeamTrump stating that “PRESIDENT TRUMP is a great champion of American workers. He SAVED the American auto industry once, and he will do it again.”

On Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform where he posts daily, the former president had only posted Wednesday about his caucus and primary wins in Iowa and New Hampshire.

He also posted in all capital letters Wednesday just before 4 p.m. Eastern: “MASSIVE PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT BY CROOKED JOE AND THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION AGAINST HIS POLITICAL OPPONENT!”

This story was originally published in the Florida Phoenix


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