Joe Biden accomplished something important this Wednesday in his race for re-election in November. The President of the United States has received the strong support of Shawn Fain, leader of the powerful United Auto Workers (UAW). Fain returns the favor that Biden did him with a historic gesture when, with a megaphone in his hand, he joined a picket line of the strike that the union maintained against the Big Three of Detroit: General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, the Chrysler took over. In some of the key states in the November presidential election, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, the vote of industrial workers could be decisive. The UAW union has nearly 400,000 members.
The event, attended by Biden, took place on Tuesday after the New Hampshire primary, in which Donald Trump won a clear victory against Nikki Haley, launching his nomination as the Republican candidate. Biden, for his part, handily won the Democratic primary despite not appearing on the ballot.
“I know there are people who want to ignore these elections,” said the union leader. “Elections are not just about choosing your best friend for office or the candidate who makes you feel best. “Elections are about power,” he continued. “This November we can stand up and elect someone who will stand with us and support our cause, or we can elect someone who will divide us and fight us every step of the way. The question is: Who do we want in this position who will give us the best chance of victory?” When asked by the union leader, those present applauded and shouted Joe Biden’s name.
Fain pointed to a Biden quote projected on the screens in support of auto unions, and the crowd cheered. He then highlighted quotes from Donald Trump, including one about unions “hurting” the auto industry, and many in the audience booed. “As a union, you rarely have such a clear choice between two candidates,” concluded Fain.
At one point, a blank white square was projected onto the screens, which Fain said was an image of what Trump has done for American autoworkers. He recalled that then-President Trump remained silent when the UAW union went on strike against GM in 2019. “He said nothing. He didn't do anything. Nothing bad because he doesn’t care about the American worker,” Fain said.
And he pointed to the contrast with Biden's stance during last year's strike. “During our strike, stand up, [Biden] He heard the call and stood up,” Fain said, noting that it was “the first time a sitting president had done that” and joined a picket line. “Joe Biden chose the American worker while Donald Trump blamed the American worker. So if we have to earn our support, then Joe Biden has earned it. “Today I am proud to stand here with the international board and announce that the UAW is supporting Joe Biden for President of the United States,” the union president said.
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Biden has declared himself the most pro-union president in United States history. He was already fighting alongside union leaders ahead of the 2022 general election, but the moment he showed it most was when he joined the UAW union strike picket line at a center for fifteen minutes last September. The General Motors distribution center in the Detroit metropolitan area.
With a megaphone in hand, standing on wooden pallets and wearing a union cap, he then expressed his support for the strikers' demands: “Stand firm. They deserve a significant raise and other benefits,” he said. “Wall Street didn’t build this country, the middle class built this country, and the unions built the middle class,” he added. Unions achieved the most advantageous collective bargaining agreement in decades and regained some of the purchasing power and benefits they lost in the wake of the financial crisis.
The UAW was the most powerful and influential union in the United States in its 88-year history, but it was in an era of decadence and corruption that landed two of its presidents in prison. In March, Fain became the union's first president elected directly by its members, and his aggressive approach secured a more favorable agreement. The union is usually one of the last to offer support to a candidate because its members include many voters from both parties.
With union support, Biden hopes to reduce the advantage Trump enjoys among white workers without college degrees. Trump stole from Democrats the traditional support of a large portion of industrial workers in the so-called Rust Belt of the United States, where heavy industry is concentrated. He defeated Hillary Clinton in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other blue-collar states in 2016, winning the presidency. Biden recaptured all three in 2020 and, along with Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, they can be decisive again this year.
At the event this Wednesday, Biden boasted that he had stayed true to his commitment to be the most pro-union president in history. “This is not the first time I have participated in a picket line. I did this many times in Delaware, my home state. But it was the first time a president had done that, I later found out,” he explained.
“We have a great fight ahead of us. “We are fundamentally transforming the economy of this country,” Biden said. “With your help, since I took office, we have created 14 million new jobs,” he added, thanking the union for its support as participants chanted: “Four more years!” “Four more years!”
Even at that event, he was haunted by the specter of pro-Palestinian protests against Biden's support of Israel in the Gaza war. Almost every campaign event was interrupted by activists.
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