With the Joe Biden presidency going down the drain, he finds himself increasingly in more hot water. It’s only appropriate that plumbers rush to his side in support before fate pulls the plug permanently on his reelection campaign bid.
The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA) represents around 366,000 plumbers, welders, and pipefitters and welders and is the top plumber’s union. The organization is no stranger to supporting Democrats and previously endorsed Biden in 2020.
Mark McManus, UA general president, cited Biden’s ongoing policies as the reason for their support. “The Biden Harris Administration has provided economic opportunity for all United Association members — meaning our members have a fair shot at working family-sustaining jobs while building the future of American infrastructure.”
The UA is proudly supporting Biden’s run with a $1 million ad campaign which will run nationwide for a month and then continue to run for another month in key battleground states.
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Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chávez Rodriguez, touts the endorsement as another victory for the president’s reelection campaign. “This endorsement highlights the groundswell of support we have seen from across the organized labor movement. That’s because Joe Biden is the most pro-labor president in history — making historic investments in our country’s manufacturing and fighting for our workers.”
But the Detroit-based United Auto Workers union begs to differ. The current administration’s focus on electric vehicles may cost the Biden campaign its UAW endorsement this cycle.
In a memo released in early May, UAW president Shawn Fain stated, “The EV transition is at serious risk of becoming a race to the bottom.” The memo adds, “Right now, we’re focused on making sure the EV transition does right by our members, our families, and our communities.”
Historically, the UAW backs Democratic candidates, including Biden, in 2020. But per the group’s own polling, one of every three of the union’s 400k members voted for Trump in the last election.
And with good reason. Trump’s protectionist trade policies, such as negotiating NAFTA, brought manufacturing jobs back from Mexico.
But Fain, while hesitant to back Biden, refuses to endorse Trump this cycle, claiming “Another Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster.”
The UAW is right to withhold endorsing Biden’s reelection. The administration’s push for green energy transportation solutions means a loss of jobs and lower wages for the jobs that remain. Joint ventures with overseas partners in processes such as battery manufacturing means that the UAW will have no bargaining power, and because EVs are simpler to manufacture, requiring fewer parts than traditional vehicles, job security is threatened.
Unsurprisingly, the United Mine Workers of America is also withholding support for Biden’s anti-fossil-fuel policies.
But manufacturing and mining aren’t the only unions backing away from Biden. In April, the New Hampshire State Employee’s Association withheld its endorsement, calling for a more “competitive” Democratic primary in 2024.
The American Association of Railroads is remaining quiet for now. After all, Biden blocked a railroad strike and forced a labor contract that didn’t include paid sick leave for railroad employees in 2022. The railroads criticized Biden’s intervention, saying that issues involving benefits are better left to negotiation, not legislation.
Overall, Biden’s strategy for winning union support is fearmongering. In June, Biden’s speech to Philadelphia unions contained a strong warning against supporting the GOP. He inexplicably claimed, “They are coming for your jobs. They are coming for your future. They are coming for the future we are building for your kids and grandkids.” He added, “And when they come as they did this past week with the trickle-down economics plan, cut taxes for the rich, who do you think they are carrying the water for?… Who do you think is going to start carrying the burden? You are. Working people in this country.”
Biden is claiming to be the most “pro-labor president” in history. But for Biden to take credit for union support is disingenuous. Unions have historically supported Democrats, so having union endorsements is hardly a personal victory or commentary for the current administration.
Instead, Biden should be taking a closer look at previously pro-Democratic unions and worrying about their lack of enthusiasm over his reelection. He would be advised to consider that union members are increasingly breaking ranks and voting in opposition to endorsements.
Not even the plumber’s union endorsement can stop his reelection hopes from being flushed down the drain.