President Joe Biden’s Labor Day celebration in Philadelphia signifies his ongoing efforts to court the labor movement, a vital constituency that has supported him for decades. As unions seek to reassert their influence, Biden’s visit to the City of Brotherly Love aims to reconnect with the union members who have long been the bedrock of his political coalition. This visit, where he is addressing a local sheet metal workers union, underscores his commitment to this core group of supporters.
The Union Base and Recent Challenges
While top union leaders have consistently supported President Biden, his standing among rank-and-file union members has faced recent challenges. Notably, the United Auto Workers (UAW) has yet to endorse his 2024 run due to an impending strike against major automakers. The White House has been working to encourage both sides to reach an agreement to avert the potentially damaging strike.
Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su has expressed optimism about the negotiations between UAW and automakers, suggesting that they might be closer to an agreement than it appears. President Biden himself has downplayed the likelihood of a strike, emphasizing that he is “not worried about a strike until it happens.”
Navigating Past Union Concerns
Despite some lingering concerns, President Biden has positioned himself as the “most pro-union president ever” and consistently highlights his pro-labor credentials in his economic speeches. Since taking office, he has taken several significant steps to support organized labor:
- On Inauguration Day, he fired the Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board general counsel, Peter Robb, signaling his support for unions.
- A month later, he voiced his support for Amazon workers seeking to unionize in Alabama through a social media video.
- Labor support has been a key theme in multiple State of the Union addresses.
- After announcing his 2024 reelection bid, Biden’s first political stop was at a legislative conference for North America’s Building Trades Unions.
- He has engaged with organizers, meeting with representatives from Starbucks and Amazon unions in May 2022 and hosting young organizers at the White House.
President Biden’s consistent efforts have sent a clear signal to workers that he is on their side, advocating for their fair share and the American Dream that has become elusive in recent decades.
A “Hot Labor Summer” and Growing Union Approval
This support from President Biden comes after what some have termed a “hot labor summer,” which has energized organized labor across various industries. Notable developments include the Teamsters’ successful deal with UPS, the ongoing Hollywood writers and actors’ strikes, and the UAW’s steadfast demands with major automakers.
Furthermore, Gallup’s 2022 Work and Education survey indicates that 71% of Americans now approve of labor unions, up from 64% before the pandemic and the highest level since 1965.
The Importance of Pennsylvania
In addition to celebrating Labor Day, President Biden’s visit to Philadelphia underscores the significance of Pennsylvania in his political strategy. He has made over two dozen visits to the Keystone State, a crucial battleground in the presidential race. Pennsylvania played a pivotal role in his 2020 election victory, providing the electoral votes needed to secure the White House.
Since taking office, Biden’s frequent trips to Pennsylvania highlight its critical role in his reelection strategy. It serves as a platform to communicate his accomplishments and connect with the voters who will be essential to securing a second term.
In conclusion, President Biden’s Labor Day trip to Philadelphia reaffirms his commitment to the labor movement and his recognition of its importance in American politics. Despite recent challenges, he continues to champion the cause of workers and unions, aligning himself as a strong advocate for labor rights and the American workforce.