Biden racks up union endorsements ahead of crucial primaries

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Joe Biden this week rolled out endorsements from unions in a slew of upcoming crucial primary states, a move intended to burnish the former vice president’s support among white, working-class voters. 

Biden’s presidential campaign announced support from unions in Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri, whose primaries this coming Tuesday will allocate a combined 229 pledged delegates, and Florida and Illinois, which will apportion 219 and 155 pledged delegates on March 17, respectively. 

Overall, the campaign this week rolled out endorsements from Unite HERE! Local 24 and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 876 and 951 in Michigan, UFCW Local 1529 in Mississippi, UFCW Locals 655, 88, and 2 in Missouri, UFCW Local 1625 in Florida and UFCW Local 881 in Illinois.

The groups combined represent well over 100,000 workers from a range of industries, including hospitality, retail, food processing and more.

“Joe Biden has fought for working class people his entire life, their access to affordable health care benefits, fair wages, and workplace protections, and ensuring they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. The resounding support he’s received from unions across the country, including from eight [United Food and Commercial Workers Union] affiliated Locals representing states voting this Tuesday is a testament to that record,” said Jamal Brown, the Biden campaign’s national press secretary.

“That support helps generate the kind of enthusiasm you need to maintain the House, win the Senate, and beat Donald Trump this November.”  

The endorsements were rolled out after Super Tuesday, when Biden won 10 of 14 states, including states he had been expected to lose and where he had not even made campaign stops. His surprisingly strong showing this week, as well as his near 30-point rout in last Saturday’s South Carolina primary, helped winnow the centrist primary field and set up a virtual two-man race between Biden and his now-chief rival progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

The endorsements may be fortelling heading deeper into the race against Sanders, who showed strength among blue collar voters during his 2016 presidential primary bid. Those same voters were ultimately instrumental in flipping key Rust Belt states to Donald Trump that year, effectively winning him the White House. 

Several of the unions whose endorsements were announced this week cited Biden’s past advocacy for unions’ ability to obtain their own health care plans and collectively bargain as well as his proposal to bolster labor groups. 

“Local 24’s members know what it means to fight for their healthcare, wages, and benefits over decades. And we know that Vice President Joe Biden has dedicated his whole life to fighting beside us, driving real concrete progress on the issues that matter most to working families,” said Nia Winston, president of Unite HERE! Local 24, which represents over 7,000 working people in the city of Detroit and across the state of Michigan.

“[Biden] has developed a specific plan to help increase unionization, prevent employers from hindering the organizing efforts of workers and protect collective bargaining rights. We strongly believe that Joe Biden is the best candidate to defeat Trump and will provide leadership that puts workers first,” added Steven M. Powell, president of the Local 881 chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) in Illinois.

Biden has taken pains to cast himself as an ally of union groups, playing up his middle class roots in Scranton, Penn., and unveiling a sweeping plan in October that would seek to incentivize unionization and collective bargaining, prevent employers from hindering workers’ organizing efforts and bolster labor protections.

Meanwhile, Sanders, who has also garnered support from unions across the country, has unleashed a barrage of attacks on Biden in recent days, resurfacing his past vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Sanders has also criticized the former vice president’s comments about freezing social security and other entitlements in the hopes of chipping into Biden’s support among working-class voters.

Biden has pushed back hard against the attacks on social security, and his campaign maintains that negative attacks will only serve to help President Trump in November.

“PolitiFact has called the Sanders campaign’s attacks ‘False.’ Joe Biden has always been a strong supporter of social security. Biden will increase social security benefits and protect it for generations to come,” says a male narrator in a new campaign spot. “Negative ads will only help Donald Trump. It’s time we bring our party together.”

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Biden

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