The UAW — one of Michigan’s most influential unions — throws its support behind Joe Biden following hard years for the auto industry under President Trump.
DETROIT, MI — One of Michigan’s major unions has thrown support behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the 2020 Presidency.
The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) represent thousands of Michigan auto workers, providing labor representation to one of the crucial segments of Michigan’s economy. Tuesday, that union endorsed Biden.
WDIV notes that the endorsement relates heavily to the recovery Biden, as Barack Obama’s vice-president, helped secure for the automotive industry.
With politics being about what a candidate will do tomorrow more than what they did yesterday, the UAW cited Biden’s commitments to policies like making sure workers get the pay, benefits and workplace protections they deserve as well as strengthening collective bargaining rights.
The UAW also cited dedication to expanding access to healthcare and reigning in corporate abuses.
“In these dangerous and difficult times, the country needs a president who will demonstrate clear, stable leadership, less partisan acrimony and more balance to the rights and protections of working Americans,” said a statement from Rory Gamble, president of the UAW. “UAW Members need a federal government that ensures that members have both a good job to go to, and that they come home to their families at night having earned a fair day’s wage in a safe and secure place.”
Why Trump Isn’t UAW’s Choice for 2020
The union has also supported a more cautious approach than that favored by President Trump about re-engaging the automotive sector economy in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. In consultation with major auto manufacturers like GM, Ford and Chrysler, Reuters reports that the UAW backed plans to focus on curbing the spread of the virus instead of jumping the gun on restarting the economy.
“This issue demonstrates the need for presidential leadership to follow the guidance of science and give workers a seat in discussions over their safety and well-being. Now it is time for workers to take their place at the table,” said Gamble.
Union endorsements are important and potentially very indicative of support from blue-collar workers, but union members don’t vote as a monolith. Despite endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016, Axios notes that 33% of UAW employees voted for Trump. That said, getting UAW’s endorsement is a good first step to wooing Michigan’s auto workers.
What won Trump support from UAW members in 2016 was largely his rhetoric around trade. That might not work for him this time around.
The Trump economy hasn’t been easy on auto manufacturers. Steel and aluminum tariffs hurt automotive supply chains hard during the height of Trump’s global trade wars. USA Today reported that raw materials were one of the biggest headaches Trumpian trade policy caused automakers.
I the recovery from 2008’s Great Recession is part of why the UAW supports Biden, the fact that Trump’s economy shedded auto sector jobs at the highest rate since that recession last year also likely factors into the decision.
As MarketWatch reported, last spring was especially hard for the industry, both because of changing consumer trends and Trump’s trade policies. Both MarketWatch and Time went on to note that as the auto industry suffers, so too does a very long and complex supply chain that supports it.
“In a changing economic environment, we need steady leadership and planning to make sure the jobs of the future are good-paying union jobs with benefits,” said Gamble. “And UAW members need to know they have a voice in those changes.”