Joe Biden Stresses Union Loyalty in Labor Day Speech Despite Strike Row: In a Labor Day address delivered on Monday, President Joe Biden didn’t mince words, launching a series of pointed critiques at his predecessor, Donald Trump.
The speech was a deliberate effort to leverage the accomplishments of his administration in order to diminish the sway Trump has gained within a critical segment of Biden’s political base.
Speaking at the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 19 in Philadelphia, President Biden honed in on his economic message, frequently referring to Trump as “the last guy” and “the guy who held this job before me.”
Biden asserted, “We’re witnessing a turnaround, and it’s thanks to you. When the last guy was in office, jobs were flowing out to China. Now, we’re bringing them back. When the last guy was here, your pensions were hanging by a thread. We worked together to secure millions of pensions. When the last guy was in charge, he viewed the world from Park Avenue. I see it from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Claymont, Delaware.”
Further into his speech, President Biden went as far as to label Trump as “a prominent real estate developer, the last guy – who, in all honesty, didn’t build much.”
Battle for 2024 Union Support
Biden’s trip to Philadelphia, a frequent stop on his presidential itinerary, was strategically aimed at appealing to union members, a steadfast component of his political base for decades.
Despite garnering endorsements from influential union leaders and prominent labor unions like the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, his standing among rank-and-file union members has recently seen some erosion, with a few swayed by his predecessor.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) has thus far refrained from endorsing Biden in his bid for reelection in 2024, partly due to an ongoing dispute with major automakers that could potentially lead to a damaging strike. The White House is carefully navigating this situation in an attempt to facilitate an agreement between both sides.
Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, told CNN on Monday that the UAW and the three unionized automakers (Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis) might be closer to a resolution than it currently appears.
Biden sought to downplay the possibility of a strike, stating before the event, “I’m not concerned about a strike unless it materializes.”
“I don’t believe it’s going to happen,” Biden added confidently during his speech.
In response to Biden’s remarks, UAW President Shawn Fain expressed surprise and remarked, “He might be privy to information we don’t have.” Fain underscored that there is still a considerable distance to cover in the negotiations.
Unions Get Cold Feet
The UAW, which endorsed Joe Biden in 2020, has expressed reservations about the administration’s stance on electric vehicles. Fain indicated that endorsements would be granted when candidates demonstrate a commitment to the needs of their members and the broader working class.
While Biden enjoys robust support within organized labor, his involvement in averting a potential rail strike in 2022 has left some union members apprehensive. They fear that he might intervene in future strikes, a perception that senior administration officials have refuted.
Nevertheless, Biden has positioned himself as the “most pro-union president ever” and consistently emphasizes his pro-labor credentials in his economic speeches. Since taking office, he has taken steps to support labor unions, including firing Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board general counsel Peter Robb on Inauguration Day. He also voiced support for Amazon workers seeking to unionize in Alabama and held meetings with various union organizers.
Joe Biden’s Blueprint for a ‘Blue-Collar America’
In the speech, President Biden declared, “We’re discarding trickle-down economics in favor of what Wall Street now calls Bidenomics, and it’s showing results. It’s about rebuilding the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the other way around.”
“Bidenomics represents a blueprint for a blue-collar America,” he added. “It’s designed with you in mind.”
President Joe Biden’s visit to Pennsylvania, a pivotal swing state, underscores its significance in his reelection strategy.
Pennsylvania played a decisive role in his 2020 victory, and the president has made numerous visits to the state since taking office, highlighting its importance in securing the second term he and his party are gunning for.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.