President Joe Biden celebrates with United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain after Fain and the UAW endorsed Biden for president at a Community Action Program legislative conference in Washington, Jan. 24, 2024.
Leah Millis | Reuters
The United Auto Workers union is endorsing President Joe Biden for reelection this year, UAW President Shawn Fain announced Wednesday at a union conference in Washington, D.C.
“Today, I’m proud to stand up here with your International Executive Board and announce that the UAW is endorsing Joe Biden for President of the United States,” Fain said. “We will reelect Joe Biden.”
The union’s endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate shouldn’t be surprising; however, it comes after months of apparent resistance by Fain, who said politicians, including Biden, would have to earn UAW endorsements.
“Look, I kept my commitment to be the most pro-union president ever,” Biden said following the endorsement announcement. “Let me just say I’m honored to have your back and you have mine. That’s the deal.”
It also comes on the heels of the New Hampshire primary, in which former President Donald Trump defeated former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
“This November, we can stand up and elect someone who stands with us and supports our cause, or we can elect someone who will divide us and fight us every step of the way,” Fain said before the endorsement. “That’s what this choice is about.”
The endorsement is crucial for any candidate looking to secure the battleground state of Michigan, because of the UAW’s potential influence there. The Detroit-based union has more than 400,000 active members and more than 580,000 retired members, many of which reside in the state.
In endorsing Biden, Fain had some strong criticism for his likely Republican opponent, at one point setting up a slide of “what Trump said and what actions he took to help the American auto workers” during his first term. The slide was blank.
“He did nothing, not a damn thing because he doesn’t care about the American worker,” Fain said. “Donald Trump stands against everything we stand for as a union, as a society.”
Biden threw his own punches at Trump, whom he expects to face in a general election rematch in November.
“During the Trump administration, a lot of administrations before that, what did they do? So many, so many people around America, lost their sense of pride,” he said. “Corporate America found the cheapest labor in the world and they sent the jobs to those laborers and sent the product back to us. But not anymore.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
From the front lines
Fain in May said the union would withhold a reelection endorsement for Biden until the UAW’s concerns about the auto industry’s transition to all-electric vehicles were addressed.
That message was heard loud and clear. In September Biden became the first sitting U.S. president to join an active UAW picket line, rallying alongside workers outside a General Motors parts facility. The visit came a week after Fain invited supporters — “from our friends and families all the way up to the president of the United States” — to join union picket lines against GM, Ford Motor and Chrysler parent Stellantis.
Fain, on the picket line with Biden at GM’s Willow Run Redistribution Center, called the moment “historic.”
The official reelection endorsement comes months after the union led strikes against the Detroit automakers after the sides failed to reach new contracts covering about 150,000 autoworkers.
The strikes, which lasted roughly six weeks, ended after each of the companies reached tentative agreements with the union in late October.
Fain has touted the agreements as assisting in the union’s “just transition” to electric vehicles, noting that workers at many battery cell plants would be included under the UAW’s national negotiations.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an autoworker-focused campaign rally at auto supplier Drake Enterprises, on Sept. 27, 2023 in Clinton Township, Michigan.
Michael Wayland / CNBC
Prior UAW leaders endorsed Biden for election against President Donald Trump in 2020. However, Trump notably gained the support of many blue-collar autoworkers during his presidential campaigns.
Michigan voters helped both Biden and Trump to win the White House during the past two presidential elections.
Trump, the front-runner among Republicans in the 2024 presidential race, hosted a rally at a Michigan plant of a nonunion supplier the week of Biden’s picket-line visit.
Trump’s visit and rally, which largely focused on the auto industry, was criticized by the union and Fain, who has repeatedly said he believes another Trump presidency would be a “disaster.”
During the event, Trump several times asked UAW members to encourage union leaders to endorse him.