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    UAW expected to endorse Biden as he prepares to fight Trump for union workers

    Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

    US President Joe Biden addresses striking members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union at a picket line outside a General Motors Service Parts Operations plant in Belleville, Michigan, on September 26, 2023. Some 5,600 members of the UAW walked out of 38 US parts and distribution centers at General Motors and Stellantis at noon September 22, 2023, adding to last week’s dramatic worker walkout. According to the White House, Biden is the first sitting president to join a picket line.


    Washington
    CNN
     — 

    The United Auto Workers union is expected to endorse President Joe Biden on Wednesday, according to a source familiar and a Michigan Democratic official familiar with the decision.

    The expected UAW endorsement comes as the Biden campaign is making a full pivot to the general election, pointing to former President Donald Trump’s victory in the Republican primary in New Hampshire Tuesday as a clear sign that he is poised to emerge as the GOP presidential nominee.

    Biden is set to address UAW members at the group’s conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday afternoon, where the endorsement is expected to be announced. The White House and Biden campaign declined to comment.

    The endorsement comes after a long courtship between the president and union leadership. Although it’s a key endorsement for Biden, the backing from union leadership may not convince all of the rank-and-file to vote for the president in November. Biden won the endorsement of the UAW in the 2020 campaign, even though many rank-and-file members supported Trump.

    Trump has made appealing to union voters a key part of his political strategy, in no small part by targeting disaffected voters in parts of the Midwest who believe the Democratic Party has left them behind.

    Biden, meanwhile, has continued to cast himself as the most pro-union leader. He joined members of the UAW in Michigan on the picket line last year in the middle of a strike – a rare move for a sitting president.

    The endorsement could be a factor in the battleground state of Michigan in November. Trump won the Great Lakes State in 2016 and Biden won it narrowly in 2020. The race is expected to be close again in November as Biden and the former president – should he win his party’s presidential nomination – both work to stake out their claim to be the champion of the working class.

    The UAW had kept its powder dry on a potential endorsement, declining last year to join a cadre of high-profile unions in backing Biden’s reelection campaign ahead of high-stakes contract negotiations. At the time, the union cited concerns over Biden’s policies that would encourage a transition to electric vehicles.

    The UAW has more than 400,000 members, and Biden – who has long relied on the political backing of unions – has touted its support in the past. The president has called American autoworkers “the most skilled autoworkers in the world.” The group’s membership is mostly concentrated in Michigan, a presidential election battleground.

    Union president Shawn Fain has warned this cycle that “another Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster.”

    Biden made an unprecedented visit to join UAW members on a picket line in Michigan in September, marking a show of solidarity and a historic moment during the six-week strike. While he took care to show his support, the administration lacked the legal or legislative authority to act as a participant in the negotiations, which ended in late October.

    Rep. Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat, dismissed concerns Tuesday that Biden had not yet received the union’s endorsement.

    “No, it doesn’t,” Kildee told CNN’s Poppy Harlow when pressed on whether he was worried the endorsement had not yet been made.

    “The UAW had other issues on its mind than injecting presidential politics into the 2023 challenges. They had an unprecedented strike. With the support of President Biden, they received an unprecedented contract. So, when I talk to auto workers, they understand that. And, you know, I’m very hopeful that organized labor generally, and the UAW specifically, will – will remember Joe Biden’s record and will stand with him as a result,” Kildee added.

    Trump has found support among the rank-and-file of the UAW despite Fain’s strong criticisms and union leadership’s consistent support of Democratic candidates. On the same day that Biden visited a UAW picket line in Michigan, Trump spoke at a non-union auto shop in suburban Detroit – drawing the ire of the union.

    Fain told CNN in December that he felt like the former president has never truly had the backs of UAW members.

    “You go back to 2019, when he was a sitting president, and GM was on strike for, you know, 40 days. What did he say about the strikers in? What did he do to assist? What did you do show he cared about those workers, I mean, he was silent,” Fain said.

    “You go back to 2015, when he was running for the presidency. And he talked about, we need to do a rotation of all these good paying jobs in the Midwest somewhere else, not out of the country, but somewhere else in the country, and have these workers begging for their jobs back. You go back to the economic recession, and he jumped on ‘The bandwagon of the UAW is to blame for everything wrong with these companies.’ And so those are facts, they’re indisputable.”

    This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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