Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams
On the eve of a Philadelphia rally hosted by labor leaders, the AFL-CIO and 17 unions on Friday endorsed Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for reelection in 2024.
During the 2020 campaign and since taking office, Biden has pledged “to be the most pro-union President leading the most pro-union administration in American history.” He has won praise for various appointments—including Julie Su for labor secretary, which still lacksU.S. Senate approval—and actions to improve the lives of exploited workers.
Although Biden also has at times angered organized labor—particularly in December when he signed a congressional resolution preventing a nationwide rail strike as industry workers were fighting for paid sick leave—AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler still stressed Friday that “there’s absolutely no question that Joe Biden is the most pro-union president in our lifetimes.”
“From bringing manufacturing jobs home to America to protecting our pensions and making historic investments in infrastructure, clean energy, and education, we’ve never seen a president work so tirelessly to rebuild our economy from the bottom up and middle out,” Shuler said. “We’ve never seen a president more forcefully advocate for workers’ fundamental right to join a union.”
“Now, it’s time to finish the job,” she declared. “The largest labor mobilization in history begins today, supercharged by the excitement and enthusiasm of hundreds of thousands of union volunteers who will work tirelessly to reelect a president they know has our backs and will always fight for us.”
Coming nearly 17 months before the 2024 election, Friday’s announcement is the earliest presidential endorsement in history for the general board of the AFL-CIO—which represents 60 unions and more than 12.5 million workers.
Biden-Harris campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez said that the president—also a former vice president, U.S. senator, and county council member—”has been an unwavering champion of the labor movement his entire career” and the “historic groundswell of support” from the AFL-CIO and unions is “an unprecedented show of solidarity and strength for our campaign.”
“Joe Biden ran for president four years ago because he knows the way to grow the economy is to grow the middle class, and that starts with strong unions and labor representation,” she continued. “With the early support from the labor movement, our campaign can tap into organized labor’s incomparable organizing abilities, which allows us to reach deep into communities and talk to voters about the tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs created by President Biden’s first-term agenda.”
“These endorsements are personal to President Biden and Vice President Harris,” added Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of the late United Farm Workers leader César Chávez. “They are proud to be the most pro-labor administration in our country’s history, and this campaign will honor that commitment by working to earn each and every vote come November 2024.”
Along with the AFL-CIO, unions individually endorsing the Biden-Harris campaign include the Actors’ Equity Association; American Federation of Government Employees; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; International Union of Operating Engineers; International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers; Laborers’ International Union of North America; and National Nurses United (NNU).
AFSCME similarly noted that “before Joe Biden was sworn in, the pandemic was raging, and our economy was in free fall. Politicians—including the former president—shook hands with frontline public service workers for the cameras, then stabbed them in the back when the cameras were off by doing nothing as essential workers were laid off because of budget shortfalls.”
“As political extremists try to roll back all the progress we’ve made and take away fundamental freedoms,” said Saunders, “Joe Biden will work with us to address the top issue for public service workers today: resolving the staffing crisis that is pushing millions of public service workers to exhaustion and leaving our communities unprepared for the next crisis.”
There is a crowded field for the 2024 Republican presidential primary but twice-impeached, twice-indicted former President Donald Trump—who just turned 77—is leading the polls, despite arguments that the U.S. Constitution bars him from ever holding elected office again for inciting the January 6, 2021 insurrection. On the Democratic side, the 80-year-old Biden incumbent faces a pair of longshot candidates: Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Biden’s new labor endorsements were intentionally announced ahead of the Saturday event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, which will be the president’s first rally since confirming in April that he is seeking a second term.
Harris was in Philly on Tuesday to meet with leaders from the Service Employees International Union. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the vice president said during the event, “Joe Biden lives, breathes, and cares so deeply about the importance of strengthening and uplifting working people, through strengthening and uplifting labor unions.”
Calling Biden and Harris “the most pro-labor, pro-public education leaders our country has seen in modern history,” AFT president Randi Weingarten declared Friday that “this weekend, the entire labor movement is joining together in an unprecedented show of strength and support to harness the collective power of working people determined to move this country in the direction of freedom, justice, and opportunity for all.”