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Biden has union support again. But the unions look different this time. – UnlistedNews

The public image of President Biden’s “Union Joe” persona rests largely on his long affiliation with unions representing police officers, firefighters, and construction workers.

But the modern labor movement gathering in Philadelphia on Saturday to endorse Biden’s 2024 re-election campaign is younger, more diverse, and has far more women than the union stereotype Biden has embraced over the decades building his identity. policy.

“You think of it as the guy with a cigar, and it’s just not that,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “I’m sure there are still guys with cigars, but there are many, many, many other people in a multi-generational, multi-racial cacophony of people united in an enthusiastic fight for a better life.”

While the current labor movement is demographically more in line with the Democratic Party, increasing the proportion of youth and people of color means union members may be less familiar with and more skeptical of Biden’s record.

The Biden campaign and the labor leaders behind it: the AFL-CIO and 17 other unions — hailed the early endorsement as a win for labor unity for the president.

Julie Chávez Rodríguez, Biden’s campaign manager, called it “an unprecedented show of solidarity and strength for our campaign.”

Less than two months after Mr. Biden launched his re-election bid, the endorsement reflects not only Mr. Biden’s popularity among union leaders, but also the reality that a large portion of union members they do not associate Mr. Biden. with the pro-union legislation he has enacted.

“There is a disconnect between all the achievements of Biden-Harris and the information that is reaching communities,” said Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO. about policies and talk about legislation and regulations. It’s up to us to figure that out and connect the dots with what’s happening in Washington.”

Before he was president, Biden was a regular at Labor Day parades, especially in Pittsburgh, home to the mostly white, male steelworkers unions who built much of western Pennsylvania, and where he launched his campaign. of 2020.

That race followed a defection by large numbers of union workers from the 2016 campaign of Donald J. Trump, which had reoriented the Republican Party in opposition to international free trade agreements championed by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

That helped Trump weed out traditionally Democratic union voters. When Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election, she won only 51 percent of votes from unionized households, while Trump won by wide margins among white, working-class voters, according to exit polls at the time. Four years later, Mr. Biden took 56 percent. of union household votes, with union voters making up a slightly larger share of the electorate.

“The labor movement is changing, without a doubt. We are having a younger and more diverse workforce,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We are seeing a revitalization among young people and people of color who see that they are being mistreated and that they don’t have a real seat at the table.”

Mr. Biden and his administration have been more vocal than their Democratic predecessors in encouraging union organizing. Mr. Biden has welcomed millennial organizers from Amazon and Starbucks who unionized parts of those companies to the White House.

Martin J. Walsh, Biden’s first labor secretary and now executive director of the professional hockey players’ union, said the early endorsements by organized labor were clear attempts to give union leaders more time to press Biden’s case to its members. .

“The fact that so many unions are coming forward so early in the process indicates that unions are consolidating their membership early and working with their members early on, so that there is not a repeat of what happened in 2016,” said Mr. Walsh.

Among the younger union leaders is Roland Rexha, secretary and treasurer of the Marine Engineers Benevolent Association, which represents maritime workers, including employees of the Staten Island Ferry. Mr. Rexha, who at 41 is the youngest member and the only Muslim in the executive council of the AFL-CIOHe said it can be hard to sell Biden to a group that is three-quarters white men, a group with which Trump has garnered majority support.

“Most unions do a good job of trying to explain to members why they need to support the people who support them,” Rexha said. “It is something that, as leaders, has sometimes been difficult for us to convey to them.”

The broad union endorsements for Mr. Biden on Saturday mask some discontent for the president among organized labor. The United Auto Workers has withheld its endorsement due to concerns about the electric vehicle transition that the White House has championed. There were significant complaints among labor groups that on the day Biden launched his campaign, he spoke to the construction union, a group whose members are seen within the labor world as less than Democratic.

And then there’s the fact that Biden’s much-vaunted infrastructure legislation will greatly benefit construction workers, a group far more likely to be male and vote Republican than the rest of the organized labor universe.

“Ironically, there is real progress for construction workers, probably half of whom voted for Trump twice,” said Larry Cohen, a former president of the Communications Workers of America who has long been an adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. .

“The message is as good as it has been in 50 years or more, but there must be results.”


Sara Marcus
Sara Marcushttps://unlistednews.com
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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