‘Pro-Labor, Pro-Worker Administration’: Labor Leaders Expect Union Resurgence Under A Biden Presidency

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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Many labor leaders around the country say they are confident that an administration led by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will lead to a union resurgence.

Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has featured many trips to union facilities and Biden has hired several union leaders to advise his campaign, according to Politico. Union involvement in his campaign has led leaders to expect an administration that sides with unions.

“It’s clear to me it’s going to be the most significant pro-labor, pro-worker administration in a long, long, long time,” said International Association of Fire Fighters general president Harold Schaitberger, Politico reported. (RELATED: ‘I Am Dismayed’: Firefighters, Paramedics Protest Union’s Trump Endorsement)

Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), added: “He’s doing more of this outreach than any other candidate that I’ve known on the Democratic side. When he talks about organized labor, when he talks about the importance of unions, he really means it.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at International Union of Operational Engineers Local 66 Sept. 30. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at International Union of Operational Engineers Local 66 Sept. 30. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Biden’s official campaign website says that he would “encourage and incentivize unionization and collective bargaining” if elected president. Union membership has been steadily declining for decades, Politico reported, with just 10.3% of workers belonging to unions in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Beyond IAFF and AFSCME, Biden has received endorsements from dozens of unions including the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Biden has also made several campaign stops addressing union leaders in MinnesotaMichigan and Pennsylvania. He has repeatedly said the upcoming election is a battle between Scranton and Park Avenue while on the campaign trail.

“Vice President Biden has listened to what we have to say about one of our nation’s most pressing challenges, and I know [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers] members will have a seat at the table in a Biden White House,” said Lonnie R. Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, after his union endorsed Biden in February.

Biden appointed Stephenson and United Farm Workers president Teresa Romero to his transition team’s advisory board, according to Politico. Former NEA president Lily Eskelsen García, AFT president Randi Weingarten and SEIU president Mary Kay Henry were appointed to Biden’s task force, which submitted the 110-page report in July that influenced the Democratic Party’s platform.

If elected president, Biden is expected to nominate several labor leaders to high-ranking positions in federal agencies including the Departments of Labor and Education, according to Politico.

Despite the enthusiasm from union leaders, a significant amount of rank-and-file members, particularly in Rust Belt states, support President Donald Trump, according to local labor officials.

Union households favored former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by 8% over Trump in 2016, according to The Washington Post. The last Republican to garner similar union support was former President Ronald Reagan.

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