Rallying With Union Members, Biden Calls Himself ‘Most Pro-Union President’ In History

Must read

Reader Favorites in the NAS

This post may contain affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I...

Weekend Open Thread

This post may contain affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I...

Weekly News Update

This post may contain affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I...

Frugal Friday’s Workwear Report: Tipped Button-Front Cardigan

This post may contain affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I...

PHILADELPHIA — Speaking on Saturday to more than a thousand union members in his first campaign rally of the 2024 election cycle, President Joe Biden celebrated the work that he’s done to create union jobs and warned union members about the dangers of him not winning a second term.

After walking onstage to Whitney Houston’s rendition of “Higher Love,” Biden waxed lyrical about his kinship with labor unions, noting that wife Jill Biden, a teacher, is a member of the National Education Association and grew up in the Philadelphia area.

“It feels good to be home,” he said.

“A lot of politicians in this country can’t say the word ‘union.’ I’m not one of them. I’m proud to say the word. I’m proud to be the most pro-union president in American history,” Biden said, prompting chants of “four more years.”

Biden went on to enumerate the many policy wins that he has helped deliver for organized labor, including infrastructure legislation, a relief bill that helped fund public sector jobs, a climate bill that is spurring domestic clean energy manufacturing, and his support for organizing rights. Under Biden, the National Labor Relations Board has been especially active in adjudicating fights for union recognition and punishing violations of labor law by employers.

Biden also touted his success defending Social Security and Medicare from cuts during the recent debt ceiling negotiations in Washington. If given a second term, Biden promised to push forward with what he called “Bidenomics” — a progressive alternative to trickle-down economics that focuses on promoting domestic manufacturing and correcting inequities in the tax code, such as the carried-interest loophole that enables super-rich finance executives to pay a 20% tax rate.

“It’s about time the super-wealthy started paying their fair share,” he said.

Former President Donald Trump and others from the growing field of Republican hopefuls vying to take on Biden were notably absent from the speech. Biden did not even hint at any specific candidates.

He instead treated the Republican effort to unseat him as a monolithic threat to working people’s interests. He warned the boisterous group of assembled union members — clad in Biden 2024 T-shirts in the colors of their individual unions — that Republicans could undo his renewable energy investments and other initiatives that are supporting union jobs.

“They’re coming for your jobs,” he said toward the end of his remarks. “They’re coming for your future. They’re coming for the future ability of your kids and grandkids,” he added.

“We’ve got a fight on our hands,” Biden said. “And my question to you is simple: Are you with me in this fight?”

The audience cheered in affirmation.

Indeed, the self-selecting crowd of politically active union members from across Pennsylvania didn’t need much selling on Biden’s presidency.

Bliss Allen, a Lansdowne resident who is participating in the Laborers’ International Union of North America pre-apprenticeship program for young people from marginalized communities, said he was impressed with the infrastructure bill.

“To see him, in this presidency, spend the money dedicated to actually getting our infrastructure — it’s not something that right now he’s going to be recognized for, but it’s something that America is making,” Allen said. “To see now, ‘OK, cool — I’m actually a part of this now.’”

Kevin Niewinski, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers from South Philadelphia, told HuffPost after the rally that he appreciated Biden’s call to make wealthier people “pay their fair share.”

“I feel like the working man’s got a shot now, a fair shake,” Niewinski said.

Prior to the rally, Biden was briefed by Pennsylvania Democratic officials on the collapse of part of Interstate 95 in northeastern Philadelphia and took an aerial tour of the damage. In his speech to union members, Biden promised that the federal government would provide all the resources necessary for a speedy rebuilding of the critical transportation artery.

Saturday’s rally was part of a show of force from the Biden campaign and key Democratic interest groups.

The AFL-CIO, the 12.5 million-member federation of labor unions that organized the rally, endorsed Biden on Friday, which it said is the earliest that the federation has ever endorsed a presidential candidate and is nearly a year earlier than when it endorsed Biden in the 2020 election cycle. A number of individual unions also announced their endorsements that day. And earlier this week, an array of environmental groups announced their support for Biden’s reelection bid.

“With labor unions, it brings people together across party lines, and so we can be in an issues-based frame out there at the community level, and really getting people on board,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler told a group of reporters after the rally.

In 2016, Trump won a larger-than-normal share of union members, leading Democratic-aligned unions to redouble their efforts to reach out to members about the stakes of having a Democrat in the White House. Memories of that race are still fresh in the minds of union leaders.

“There’s some support among our membership for Donald Trump. I think it’s waned over time,” Shuler said, before making an apparent reference to recent criminal charges facing Trump. “As these legal troubles continue to surface, I think people are asking themselves, ‘Who do we want out there fighting for us?’”

Biden’s recent legislative wins and Democrats’ strong performance in last year’s midterm elections succeeded in quieting doubts about how Biden’s age might affect the 80-year-old’s performance in the general election.

But polling still shows that many Democratic voters do not want him to run again. And the anti-establishment campaign of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has attracted double-digit support in some early primary polls.

A White House official present at Saturday’s rally declined to comment on Kennedy’s bid.

Asked whether the coordinated show of support from labor and other liberal groups was designed to shore up Biden’s weakness with the Democratic base, Shuler insisted that it was solely due to his status as a uniquely dedicated champion for organized labor.

“What’s there to talk about when you have the most pro-union president, who’s standing up, fighting for us?” she asked.

“The policies reflect it, his Cabinet reflects it, his regulatory approach reflects it.”

So, how is Biden more pro-labor than former President Barack Obama?

“There’s some subtlety because he is from the top sending the message to every aspect of the administration … that unions and building from the middle out and the bottom up is the priority,” Shuler said, noting that organized labor now has an official representative in the Department of Commerce, historically a hub for business interests.

“And so it has actually taken hold in every aspect of the administration in a way that’s deeper than ever before.”

More articles

Latest article

Reader Favorites in the NAS

This post may contain affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I...

Weekend Open Thread

This post may contain affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I...

Weekly News Update

This post may contain affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I...

Frugal Friday’s Workwear Report: Tipped Button-Front Cardigan

This post may contain affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I...