Biden, Trump Fight for Union Endorsements Ahead of 2024 Rematch

Joe Gomez
By Joe Gomez
April 9, 20242024 Elections
Biden, Trump Fight for Union Endorsements Ahead of 2024 Rematch
(Left) President Joe Biden on March 11, 2024. (Right) Former President Donald Trump on April 2, 2024. (Scott Olson, Sophie Park/Getty Images)

As former President Donald Trump heads toward a rematch with President Joe Biden, he is targeting the labor unions to divide the incumbent’s votes. Some experts say this strategy could work for President Trump.

The presumed Republican 2024 presidential nominee is looking for more gains among the blue-collar workers that helped propel his 2016 victory. His campaign is eyeing the divide between union leaders, who have backed Democratic candidates, and rank-and-file union members who could be swayed to vote for President Trump.

“My hunch is that the rank and file members of the Teamsters are 60-40, meaning it is likely that 60 percent of the membership will vote Democratic and 40 percent will vote Republican,” Prof. Lee Adler, who teaches labor law at Cornell University told The Epoch Times.

“There were times, if I’m not mistaken, in the 2016 election that Mr. Trump might have shaved that [by] four or five points … meaning he may have gotten more than 40 percent of the union vote.”

Mr. Adler says that the rank-and-file members of the Teamsters or any other labor union don’t necessarily have to support a candidate for the leadership of the union to make an official endorsement.

“Researchers who’ve looked at this question believe that an endorsement means something in some cases, it means more in other cases. And again, that will depend on the disjunctiveness between the rank and file and the leadership,” he said. “Endorsements often mean that, depending on the language in the international or the statewide union in the body, they can then start turning and spending monies, monies that have been raised as part of political action committees and sometimes monies that have been raised by membership that can help a candidate.”

He adds that once a union officially endorses a candidate, its political action committee can also officially launch its get-out-the-vote campaign for that individual, even if members of the union support a different candidate.

Battle for Teamsters’s Endorsement

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is a focus for President Trump.

Teamsters has met individually with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump as the powerful 1.3 million-member labor union carefully vets who they will endorse to be the next president of the United States.

The Republican National Committee recently announced they have closed out the month of March with $93.1 million in their campaign accounts, including a $45,000 donation from the Teamsters’ political action committee. It’s a donation that breaks decades of precedent as the Teamsters typically only provide large donations to Democrats.

“There’s always a threat to organized labor, so we want to be proactive and make certain every candidate—not just President Biden—understands how important our issues are,” Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien told reporters after meeting with President Biden last month.

The Teamsters backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and President Biden in 2020, although Mr. O’Brien has stressed that the union is keeping an open mind on endorsements this cycle.

The group generally waits until after both parties’ summer nominating conventions to make a formal endorsement, and will “most likely” do so again this year, once it polls its members, solicits rank-and-file input, and reconvenes its leadership team, he said.

The union’s membership includes UPS drivers, film and television workers, freight operators, members of law enforcement, and other government workers.

Labor Union Leaderships Back Biden

President Biden, who often refers to himself as “the most pro-labor president in U.S. history,” has already won important 2024 endorsements from more than two dozen national unions, including the powerful AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. But the support of rank-and-file union members is eluding him in some states.

In the swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin—a state that Biden narrowly won by 20,000 votes in 2020—thousands of union and low-wage immigrant workers are campaigning against President Biden over his support of the war between Israel and Gaza.

“Individuals in labor have been very active,” said Janan Najeeb, a Wisconsin organizer spearheading the Listen to Wisconsin campaign, told The Guardian.

The war between Israel and Gaza has highlighted a divide in the labor movement between union leaders and rank-and-file members that could be exploited by Republicans. So far the division has largely played out within the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation, but has the potential to spread to other labor unions.

A poll conducted in the key swing state of Wisconsin showed that 70 percent of Democratic voters strongly support an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The poll also finds less than half of Wisconsin Democratic voters support President Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

Law Enforcement Unions Back Trump

While President Biden has won numerous endorsements from labor unions across the country, former President Trump has quickly become a favorite among law enforcement unions.

Most recently, the 12,000-member Police Officers Association of Michigan endorsed the former president. A statement on the union’s website features its endorsement of President Trump. “He unequivocally condemned violence and unrest, standing firmly with law enforcement in times of crisis,” it says.

It is the second law enforcement union to endorse President Trump after the Florida-based International Union of Police Associations did so earlier this year. The former president has not yet received the endorsement of the National Association of Police Organizations, who say they are waiting until after the conventions of both the Republican and Democratic parties to announce their support.

“I believe it is very important to the candidate(s) and the public at large. Public safety and crime in our streets are consistently one of the most important issues for U.S. voters. Candidates from all parts of the political spectrum recognize this, and actively seek our endorsement,” William J. Johnson, Esq., the executive director of the NAPO, told The Epoch Times.

“Under our organization’s bylaws, we will consider an endorsement for the president and vice president of the United States at our annual convention in July.”

And while the former president hopes to receive endorsements beyond law enforcement unions, union educator and activist Judy Ancel believes it’s a longshot, despite the fact the Teamsters have made one donation to the RNC.

“When Trump was in office, he was terrible to unions. The people he appointed to the national labor relations board were anti-union and anti-worker,” Ms. Ancel told The Epoch Times. “They violated the intent of the act and made it harder for workers to exercise their rights under the law. While running for office, Trump promised to stop plant closings and save jobs. He did nothing of the sort when he went into office.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

From The Epoch Times

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