Michigan labor unions take stand against Trump

Michigan labor unions take stand against Trump

By Kyle Kaminski

June 27, 2024

Some of Michigan’s largest labor unions are joining forces to urge voters to re-elect President Joe Biden—or risk losing more jobs under another Donald Trump administration. 

DETROIT—Kevin Moore won’t need much time to fill out his ballot in this year’s election.

As the president of Teamsters Joint Council 43, Moore leads a labor union that represents more than 240,000 active and retired workers across the state of Michigan. And when it comes to picking the president of the United States, Moore said he always casts his vote for whichever candidate cares most about the interests of his workers and retirees—and their pocketbooks.

“I have known Joe Biden since I was 28 years old. He sided with unions every step of the way and in every elected office he ever took. He’s the greatest labor president in the history of America,” Moore said. “They could roll Joe Biden out in a wheelchair and a sippy cup. He’s still getting our votes. He saved millions of pensions—something you worked your entire life for, and Trump wants to make it like it’s an entitlement. It’s 30 years of hard work. It’s not an entitlement.”

This week, Moore joined Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and other leaders from several of Michigan’s largest labor unions for a roundtable discussion hosted by the Biden campaign.

Together, surrounded by signs reading “Trump Kills Jobs,” they drew a clear contrast between President Joe Biden and ex-President Donald Trump—and urged Michiganders to re-elect Biden in November, or else risk losing jobs and momentum for continued economic growth.

“We’re replacing 1,000 lead pipes a month in the city of Detroit, using trades members to do that. That came out of the Biden infrastructure bills. We just finished basically a $1 billion expansion of the General Motors electric vehicle factory. They’ve got more than 4,000 workers there. This is absolutely a function of the president’s focus,” Duggan told union leaders.

He added: “Biden is fighting for higher pay for workers in this country. Trump doesn’t hide it. He openly says ‘I’m going to roll back the taxes on the corporations and approve the big mergers.”

In recent months, Biden has racked up significant support from labor unions in his bid for a second term—including from the United Auto Workers (UAW) after Biden became the first president in modern history to join striking auto workers on the picket line in Michigan

And with about four months until Election Day, Biden’s support from organized labor appears to be gaining steam as more Michigan workers stand behind the president’s vision to invest in infrastructure, manufacturing, and clean energy to help spur the creation of new jobs.

In addition to the Teamsters and the UAW, representatives from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Michigan Laborers, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, and Service Employees International Union joined the discussion this week—and each threw their support behind Biden.

“This administration actually has implemented real change, and when we think about the sustainability of this economic boom that we have right now, the only way we continue that is if we elect President Joe Biden to office for another term,” said John Perkins, a business representative for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

Union leaders said they’re supporting Biden largely because of his efforts to invest in the workforce and grow Michigan’s middle class—including through laws that have both expanded and raised standards in the state’s manufacturing and construction industries, as well as led to billions of dollars of investments to support infrastructure and clean energy projects in Michigan.

In all, Biden has overseen the creation of more than 15 million jobs in the US since taking office.

“We’re a hotbed for construction right now. And I can say that a lot of other cities are looking at what we’re doing—and trying to copy what we’re doing here in Detroit as well,” said Adrian Bonds, field representative for the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council.

According to a 2020 report from the nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, 200,000 American jobs were offshored during Trump’s presidency, and he awarded more than $425 billion in federal contracts to several major corporations that were responsible for doing so.

The Trump administration also repeatedly opposed legislation to increase the federal minimum wage, as well as changed the rules for who qualifies for overtime pay—making more than 8 million workers ineligible and costing them a combined $1 billion annually in lost wages.

“[Under Trump], there was a whole period of time of nothing,” said Paul VanOss, business manager at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58. “But when Biden got there, he started making those things happen, and the roll continued. … Factories were getting built. People in Detroit were going back to work. I mean, we’re really up and running now.”

“Trump promised things that Biden actually followed through on,” added Mikyia Aaron, general counsel for Laborers Local 1191. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a president in my lifetime demand this much acknowledgement of unions. That creates a synergy around unions and what it means to be organized, and now we’re seeing other workers want to have that representation.”

READ MORE: Meet the Michigan workers supporting Biden over Trump

For the latest Michigan news, follow The ‘Gander on Twitter.

Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.


  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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