While speaking at the annual Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh, Vice President Joe Biden was urged by a crowd of union members to finally announce his bid for the presidency.
Biden was joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard. The crowd cheering for Biden wore union colors and gear. If he does decide to run, Biden could shake up a field of candidates many within the labor movement have been hesitant to endorse. Trumka even walked with Biden in the parade, according to The Boston Globe.
“He’s a friend, he’s a brother, he’s a great champion of working men and working women, and I gotta say, it’s an honor,” Trumka told the crowd. “We’ll work together, we’ll stand together, we’ll register together, we’ll vote together and we’ll win together.”
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has lost a lot of support among the labor movement, but union leaders fear her main rival Bernie Sanders is not electable. This could, however, open a door for Biden if he decides to run. At the parade union members were already showing strong support for him joining the race. Some in the crowd even chanted “Give it a go, Joe,” and “Run Joe, run,” according to The Associated Press.
“You built the middle class, that’s not an exaggeration,” Biden declared. “And as you’ve declined, the middle class has declined. So there’s a simple correlation: We build labor, we build America. We build labor we build the middle class.”
Biden and Trumka also met last month in private. Though the details of the meeting are unknown, The New York Times reports Biden was the one who requested it. Unions wield considerable political influence and Biden may be paving the way for his potential run.
It was the recent trade debate that first put Hillary at odds with organized labor. It was also a main reason Sanders was able to gain support among many union members. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is currently being negotiated between President Barack Obama and the leaders of 11 other Pacific nations.
Unions have argued the trade agreement will benefit corporations and special interests while hurting working Americans. Despite this, Hillary was reluctant to take a firm stand against the trade deal. This upset many union leaders and members.
After holding a private meeting in July to determine who to back, the AFL-CIO decided instead to delay endorsing anyone. The union also urged its affiliate unions not to endorse Sanders. This, however, didn’t stop a coalition of locals from doing just that.
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