WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden opened his 2020 presidential run at a Pittsburgh union hall, declaring, “I’m a union man. Period.” As he gears up for reelection, the president’s first political rally is being held at a union gathering on the other side of Pennsylvania, punctuating just how much Biden is counting on labor support to carry him to a second term — especially in a critical battleground state.
The symmetry is no accident. Rallying labor activists on Saturday at Philadelphia’s convention center can help Biden’s campaign spark enthusiasm and tap early organizing muscle. That may eventually boost Democratic voter turnout in the city’s suburbs and other key parts of Pennsylvania, which in 2020 helped him flip the state where Biden was born from Donald Trump.
“It speaks to this president’s visceral understanding that, when the labor movement in the United States is strong, the economy and our democracy are strong,” said Mary Kay Henry, international president of the 2-million-member Service Employees International Union. “He sees the role that working people and unions play in everything that he’s trying to make happen.”
Many of the country’s top unions, including the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, announced Friday their endorsements of Biden’s 2024 campaign — the first time the groups have done so in a coordinated manner and this early in the presidential election cycle.
“We wanted to have all of the unions onboard and making a very strong statement,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and head of the AFL-CIO’s political committee, who pushed for the coordinated endorsements. “We’re going to hit the ground running and make it clear that all of labor is supportive of the president, and we’re going to do what is necessary to get him reelected.”
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