What Does Labor Want in the 2024 Presidential Election?

“What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful, and childhood more happy and bright.”

Samuel Gompers

Past labor union loyalties

In response to the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt built a winning coalition for Democrats in the 1930s. FDR’s New Deal coalition consisted, in part, of city voters, ethnic voters, and organized labor. Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy and appeals to the ‘Silent Majority’ were attempts to peel away parts of the New Deal coalition. Ronald Reagan further appealed to blue-collar workers.

Trump’s appeal to union voters

Trump has been successful in gaining non-college graduates voters. He has gained the support of union workers who are afraid that immigrants take their work. Workers in the coal and fracking industries fear that Democrats want to end their jobs. There are still hard feelings over Biden and the Democrats’ past support for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump encourages these voters to feel that their very way of life and their way is under attack. Polls indicated that a large percentage of autoworkers supported Trump in the last election. The Teamsters have recently donated to the Republican National Committee convention fund after a meeting with the former president.

“I want a future that protects American labor, not foreign labor.”

President Donald Trump

Biden’s appeal to union voters

Biden has tried to regain members of the New Deal coalition that have been lost to Nixon, Reagan, and Trump. While Trump has support among non-college graduates, many of today’s union workers are college-educated employees in the public sector such as education, health care, and government. Biden has polled stronger with this new generation of union voters. The Biden administration has delivered on pro-union policies. Biden has campaigned on the promise to be “the most pro-union President” in U.S. history. He earned the UAW’s endorsement after becoming the first president to walk a union picket line.

“I meant what I said when I said I’m going to be…the most pro-union president in American history. And I make no apologies for it. “

President Joe Biden

Trump and Biden records on labor

Under the Trump administration, the Supreme Court’s ruling on ‘fair share’ fees made it easier for government employees not to pay administrative fees in unionized workplaces. Trump promised to veto the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. Trump changed the rules regarding which employees may qualify for overtime pay. The ruling made over 8 million workers ineligible for overtime. Trump reduced the number of OSHA inspectors. Trump opposed raising the minimum wage.

President Joe Biden made history when he joined a United Auto Workers picket line in Michigan. At the same time, Trump spoke at a Michigan non-union auto parts manufacturer that was not involved in the UAW strike. Trump appointed National Labor Relations Board members who made it more difficult for unions to win representation at nonunion workplaces. Biden fired an anti-labor attorney appointed by Trump from the NLRB. Then the Biden NLRB moved to make organizing a union easier. Biden’s American Rescue Plan saved hundreds of union pension plans that were nearly insolvent. The Biden Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorized over a trillion dollars to improve roads, airports, public transit systems, and electrical grids, employing union labor. Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act invests in healthcare and clean energy initiatives, creating jobs in construction, manufacturing, and transportation.

Why is the union vote so important?

Union votes will be critical in the swing states of Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania- states with many union workers. Union voters could swing the 2024 presidential election to either candidate. Will union voters be drawn to Biden’s history of policy accomplishments or Trump’s powerful emotional appeals?


Thanks and a tip of the hat to Creative Commons for the image of Biden on the UAW picket line.

Recently Popular

To Top