The United Auto Workers endorsed President Joe Biden for reelection on Wednesday, after holding off a decision for months despite historic support from the White House for the union’s agenda.
“This choice is clear: Joe Biden bet on the American worker while Donald Trump blamed the American worker,” UAW President Shawn Fain said, adding: “If our endorsements must be earned, Joe Biden has earned it.”
Biden was set to appear after Fain, less than a day after the New Hampshire primary all but cemented his general election rematch against former President Donald Trump.
Biden made the unprecedented move of appearing on a UAW picket line during the union’s six-week strike against Detroit automakers last year. He was highly invested in the outcome of the strike, not only to burnish his pro-union credentials — his push to encourage greater production of electric vehicles didn’t sit well with the UAW and was an issue in the contract talks.
Still, Fain and the UAW leadership refrained from endorsing the president until Wednesday, balking at the standard set by the AFL-CIO earlier this year, which issued its earliest-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate.
Fain made clear he didn’t agree with everything the administration was doing on the electric vehicle transition, leaving Biden to walk a fine line as he sought to show support for the union.
The UAW’s invitation to Biden to join its conference this week signaled an endorsement could be on the way, but it kept its plans largely under wraps until Fain took the stage in Washington. In deciding on endorsements, the union indicated it was seeking commitments on retirement security, what it sees as a just EV transition and support for union organizing.
“There’s still a lot of unions that are out there that are struggling. I think he should take that into consideration,” Marty Garcia, president of UAW Local 76 in California, said of Biden. “Not just the bigger unions but the smaller unions out there that are facing the same issues that we face.”
From the start, backing former President Donald Trump was a nonstarter for UAW leaders. Fain and the union have both bashed the former president for failing to align with working class interests, even as Trump has tried to court working class Michigan voters.
Trump, for his part, is scheduled to meet with Teamsters President Sean O’Brien and union members next week, as that union also has held out on a presidential endorsement. The Teamsters invited Biden to a roundtable with members that same day, the union said.
“Working class people are hurting,” Fain said Wednesday. “For decades, we’ve been ignored at best and trampled on at worst. But we are the vast majority of society. We have the numbers, and we have the votes.”