Like peanut butter and jelly, labor unions and the Democratic Party have historically gone hand in hand. However, of late, the union vote has been up for grabs. Political strategists know that whoever wins the hearts and minds of this plenteous cache of voters could mean the difference between winning and losing the presidency in 2024. This is likely why former President Donald Trump is heading to Detroit to rally the striking United Auto Workers instead of Simi Valley for the next GOP debate as labor unrest deepens nationwide.
The Writers Guild of America and then the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA) hit the streets earlier this year to little fanfare. However, when United Auto Workers in three assembly plants went on strike last week, the Biden and Trump campaigns began to sit up and notice.
The Union Vote and the Political Paramedics
Without so much as a beat, President Joe Biden “dispatched two of his top aides to Detroit to help resolve the strike by unionized autoworkers, expressing sympathy for the union by suggesting that the Big 3 automakers should share their ‘record profits,’” according to Associated Press. The Democrats are trying to shore up the union vote early. Still, even The New York Times noticed when the president went before the AFL-CIO in Philadelphia in June, “changes in union membership mean that he still has work to do.”
Biden often refers to himself as “lunch bucket Joe” and self-identifies as “the most pro-union president in American history.” Still, there is concern in some quarters that the aging president is out of touch with the increasingly young union workforce. These people took a walk on the wild side with 2016 candidate Trump and vaulted him over Hillary Clinton, who could garner only 51% of the organized labor electorate. Alas, Trump’s labor support was fleeting. In 2020, the union vote flipped to Biden, who took home 56%.
Traditionally, Republicans have championed right-to-work legislation and identified with big business. But times they are a changin’, and the flip-flopping of the union vote has both the Trump and Biden campaigns desperately seeking organized workers’ support. Since both men have a proven track record of winning over labor, endorsement from this bloc of voters takes on crucial significance.
The strikes demonstrate that unionized labor is unsatisfied and wants to sidle up to the candidate who promises to push for their share of the big business pie. Even though Trump is cut from corporate cloth, he has a way of speaking to the everyday worker that resonates. Skipping the second GOP debate in favor of holding a rally with striking UAW folks and perhaps even showing up on the picket line are strategic moves by Trump campaign managers. They know well that their man missed winning Michigan by a slim margin after being victorious there in 2016. He must make hay with organized labor to recapture the Wolverine State’s crucial 16 electoral votes. To do that, it is imperative he persuade workers that Biden is all talk and no action. Earlier this year, Liberty Nation noted:
“[Biden] is perhaps the all-time champion of this classic ploy in which Democrats exploit union members as an archetypal step-and-repeat. But are the rank-and-file still drinking the Democrats’ Kool-Aid, or are they getting a mite tired of being recycled as human props for political promises and pledges?”
Ultimately, the union vote will go to the candidate who can convince the men and women on the assembly lines that they will have an advocate in the White House.