Photo by AFGE CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by AFGE CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Citing a need to change the country’s course, the largest coalition of labor unions in America, the AFL-CIO, has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The largest coalition of labor unions, the AFL-CIO, announced its formal endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. 

“Joe Biden has demonstrated his character,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the Washington Post. “We look forward to helping him get elected president and changing the direction of the country.”

Labor unions are traditionally major Democratic constituencies, and Biden has worked hard to develop connections with unions over the years. But the formal endorsement comes with a significant mobilization of resources for the Biden campaign in battleground states, including Michigan.

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The AFL-CIO represents 55 unions consisting of well over 12 million members, from utility workers to NFL players to musicians. Trumka pledged their resources in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which narrowly went for Trump in 2016, as well as Minnesota, New Mexico, Florida and Arizona.

While traditionally a Democratic constituency, President Trump has focused messaging to try and secure union support. No constituency votes with one mind, and Trump’s message resonated with a lot of union workers in 2016, The New York Times reported. Tapping into anxieties about economic insecurity got Trump the attention of union members in the first place, and since then he’s worked to keep them on his side even while taking on the unions themselves. 

One of the biggest points of contention in the battle for union voters will likely be international trade policies. While an AFL-CIO poll showed large majorities of its members disliked trade agreements like Clinton-era NAFTA and Obama-era TPP, the trade wars Trump championed during his administration were no benefit to union workers, a Fed study found

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The battle over unions is a key fight in 2020, Vox notes, because union members vote in higher percentages than other Americans and tend to be more politically engaged. In addition, unions have strong mobilization operations in key states.  

“In the face of COVID-19 we’re seeing without any doubt how important unions are to this country — fighting for their workers to have personal protective equipment, for paid leave, and for safer workplaces,” Biden wrote in a statement. “As we come out of this crisis, there is an incredible need and opportunity to create good-paying union jobs across the country and ensure the United States owns the 21st century.”

The AFL-CIO endorsement follows another high-profile union endorsement last month from the UAW, The ‘Gander reported.