In backing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, UAW President Rory Gamble said Tuesday that “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.”
The union represents roughly 400,000 workers nationwide but has an outsized influence in the crucial general election battleground state of Michigan – as it represents some 150,000 workers with Detroit’s three major automakers. The UAW also represents factory workers in other industries as well as nurses, casino workers, and university graduate assistants.
The UAW’s backing is the latest for Biden by a major organized labor group. The presumptive Democratic nominee’s long touted his working-class roots in Pennsylvania and his decades of support for the unions. Biden’s also highlighted the 2009 auto bailouts that saved General Motors and Chrysler from slipping into bankruptcy and that he championed as vice president in the Obama administration.
The UAW usually backs Democrats in presidential elections – including Hillary Clinton in 2016. But its workers don’t always vote as a monolithic bloc and plenty of the rank and file voted for Donald Trump four years ago. Trump narrowly flipped Michigan as well as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – two other states with a smaller percentage of UAW members – from blue to red in 2016, helping him win the White House.
The president’s continued to court auto workers since his 2016 election.
The union’s currently negotiating with General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler to restart factories shut during the past month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” the union's statement said.