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President Biden Addresses United Auto Workers’ Convention, Undecided on Union’s Endorsement

by Anna

President Joe Biden is set to address the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) political convention as part of his efforts to garner support from blue-collar workers in pivotal auto-manufacturing states like Michigan and Wisconsin. Scheduled to speak as the union concludes its three-day gathering in Washington, Biden aims to influence the union’s political priorities. However, it remains uncertain whether the UAW leaders will use this occasion to endorse Biden’s second-term bid or choose to delay the endorsement to enhance the union’s bargaining position.

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This marks Biden’s first political engagement following the New Hampshire primary vote, where former President Donald Trump secured a win among core Republican voters, and Biden received a write-in victory.

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Emphasizing his commitment to labor, Biden has frequently portrayed himself as the most labor-friendly leader in American history. During a strike last fall, he actively joined union workers on a picket line at a GM parts warehouse in Detroit. Despite Biden’s advocacy, UAW President Shawn Fain, as of Monday’s conference opening, maintained a reserved stance, insisting that political leaders must align with the union’s cause to secure an endorsement.

The sentiments within the UAW regarding Biden’s support range from enthusiastic to uncertainty among union members, with varied opinions on whether to vote on Election Day.

While some members, like Caroline Loveless from Iowa, enthusiastically support Biden, citing his solidarity on the picket line, others, such as William Louis from Connecticut, express reluctance, citing concerns about the current state of the economy. The proposed PRO Act, aimed at easing federal-level unionization, adds another layer of complexity to members’ decisions.

However, Biden’s stance on the conflict in Gaza could spark dissent within the union, particularly among younger members. During a Monday speech by Fain, attendees chanted for a ceasefire, reflecting dissatisfaction with Biden’s response to the situation.

The UAW, with around 380,000 members, typically delays presidential endorsements, with the 2020 endorsement for Biden coming in April. Fain, the first UAW president directly elected by members, stresses the importance of following union procedures in the endorsement process.

As Biden addresses the convention, actions taken during his presidency, such as supporting the reopening of a Stellantis plant, are noted by the UAW. The endorsement decision ultimately belongs to the membership, and the timing of this decision holds significance, impacting the union’s leverage over legislation and other matters.

Experts, such as Art Wheaton from Cornell University, express surprise at the possibility of an early Biden endorsement, suggesting that the UAW could wield more influence by waiting closer to the election. A union endorsement is considered crucial, especially considering the historical voting patterns of UAW members.

In the coming days, the UAW’s decision could influence not only its members but potentially sway nonunion blue-collar white males, a demographic that has shown a recent inclination towards Republican votes.

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