Election 2024 Biden UAW

President Biden speaks to striking United Auto Workers on the picket line outside the Willow Run Redistribution Center, UAW Local 174 on Sept. 26 in Van Buren Township, Mich. Biden was the keynote speaker on Wednesday at a UAW political convention as he works to sway blue-collar workers his way in critical auto-making swing states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Evan Vucci/Associated Press

The United Auto Workers endorsed President Biden at its annual legislative conference Wednesday in Washington, signaling union support in auto-making swing states, where former president Donald Trump is also popular.

The endorsement is a political victory for the self-proclaimed “most pro-union president,” who has gone to great lengths to appeal to union members, including autoworkers.

“Rarely, as a union, do you get so clear of a choice between two candidates,” said UAW President Shawn Fain, as he explained the UAW endorsement. “Donald Trump is a scab. Donald Trump is a billionaire, and that’s who he represents.”

“If our endorsements must be earned, Joe Biden has earned it,” Fain added, receiving a standing ovation from the audience.

Later, Biden addressed UAW members in his first campaign event since Tuesday’s primary election in New Hampshire, where Trump secured a decisive victory with Republican voters and Biden notched a write-in win.

“You built these companies,” Biden said, addressing hundreds of cheering UAW members in a hotel ballroom in Washington. “You sacrificed to save them, and you deserve to benefit when these companies thrive,” he continued, invoking the losses UAW members took during the Great Recession and auto companies’ strong rebound in recent years.


Tracie Collins, a 24-year Ford employee, flew from Livonia, Mich., to attend the UAW conference in Washington. “The UAW loves and supports Biden, because he loves and support us,” Collins said after leadership announced the Biden endorsement. “He gets what we deserve. [During the strike], we weren’t asking for everything. We were asking for enough to support our families.”

A group of UAW members interrupted Biden’s speech at one point, criticizing the president for his support of Israel in the war in Gaza. They were dragged out by security, a day after protesters with similar concerns disrupted another Biden campaign event. The union is one of a handful that has called for a cease-fire in the war.

Josh Saunders, a union welder at John Deere who traveled from Iowa, reluctantly voted for Biden in 2020 and a third-party candidate in 2016.

Election 2024 Biden

President Biden is greeted by Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers, as he arrives to speak to a United Auto Workers’ political convention on Wednesday in Washington. Alex Brandon/Associated Press

After Biden’s address Wednesday, Saunders said he isn’t ready yet to throw his support behind Biden. “I think there needs to be a cease-fire called for in Gaza,” Saunders said. “I’m not saying I won’t vote for Biden, but I feel there’s a genocide taking place and he has the power to do more than he is.”

Coming off a high-profile strike in 2023 that won record wage gains for autoworkers, the UAW had been holding off from endorsing in the race, even as Biden made several trips this fall to support autoworkers, becoming the first sitting president to visit a picket line. The work stoppage also brought Trump to Michigan to woo autoworkers.

The autoworker union’s endorsement has strong implications for the key battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin; Biden narrowly won both states in 2020.


Fain, the UAW’s enthusiastic and relatively new leader, has been an outspoken critic of Trump. He slammed Republican policies as dividing the working class “using racism, sexism and xenophobia” during the conference Monday.

The UAW, which represents around 400,000 members, used the specter of an endorsement as leverage in last year’s autoworker strike, which spotlighted worker concerns in the transition to electric vehicles, a key priority of the Biden administration. The union won new protections for workers in EV battery plants, and it pushed Jeep owner Stellantis to reopen a shuttered auto factory in Belvidere, Ill., with the support of the Biden administration.

“Our endorsements are going to be earned. They’re not going to be freely given, as they have been in the past,” Fain told The Washington Post last summer.

Biden has received a stream of earlier-than-typical union endorsements this election cycle, including a June endorsement from the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, and more than a dozen other unions. But a handful of influential unions, including the Teamsters, the American Postal Workers Union and the International Association of Fire Fighters, have chosen to continue to wield their endorsement as influence in Washington.

“The union share of the vote is incredibly important,” said Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic political strategist in the labor movement for decades. “In the most critical battleground states, the so-called blue wall states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that President Biden needs to win to be reelected and that were the reason Trump was elected in 2016, a big share of the votes are from union households.”

Brian Rothenberg, a former spokesperson for the UAW and a public relations consultant, said internal surveys early in election seasons typically show about a third of UAW members supporting Democratic presidential candidates, a third supporting Republicans and the remaining third as swing voters. However, past internal surveys after elections show that about 60% of current and retired members usually voted for Democratic presidential candidates in November.

Biden has frequently touted his ties to labor unions, while straining at times to make inroads with working-class union members. His biggest wins for the labor movement include approving trillions of dollars in spending on infrastructure, semiconductor and climate packages that incentivize companies to hire union workers, as well as installing a labor advocate to lead the National Labor Relations Board, who has made it easier for workers to join unions.

Trump has also called himself “pro-worker,” positioning himself as an ally of the working class, while also supporting numerous policies as president that constricted union power. He has received few union endorsements outside of law enforcement unions. His visit to Michigan during the UAW strike featured a rally with autoworkers at a nonunion shop, as union leaders warned the former president to stay away.

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