Labor Split Forming on Presidential Election

Originally published on Labor Today

On April 25th, 2024, former president Donald Trump visited a construction site in Manhattan New York to meet with some of his supporters at a construction site. Donald Trump is hoping to win big in New York City and is appealing to the unionized workers of the city to help him secure that victory. A document handed out at the meet-and-greet called “Union Workers Paying the Price for Biden’s Failed Economic Policies” describes how Trump will ban Chinese and foreign ownership of critical US infrastructure if re-elected as well as cancel Biden’s electric vehicle mandate. He also gave some autographs, including on the welding helmet of one Jason Murray from the Steamfitters Local 638.

In an interview with Fox News, Murray discussed how under Biden the cost of living has gone “through the roof” and how a week after inauguration over 10,000 of his union brothers and sisters were laid off from work after Biden’s executive order stopped the Keystone pipeline. This is marking a shift in organized labor from always backing the Democrats with many of the rank and file voicing their opinion for backing likely Republican candidate Donald J. Trump. After communicating with their leadership, Steamfitters Local 638 business manager Bobby Bartels listened and reached out to each potential presidential candidate but, according to Murray, he only got a response from Trump and Robert F Kennedy. “He has not received a single email or memo from Biden or his team,” says Murray.

I will do whatever my members want me to do,” Bartels says in an interview with Fox News. He’s said that his members are concerned with illegal immigration, solar power, electric vehicles, and overall inflation resulting in higher gasoline and food prices. Especially after putting out a presidential poll with his union, he began to understand where his members stood concerning the election. While most building trade union leaders are satisfied with dictating to their members to vote for the Democrats, Bartels is sticking his neck out when communicating and sympathizing with the desires of his membership. To these unionized workers, having a secure country is more important than whatever good Joe Biden claims to have done for organized labor during his administration. In an interview with conservative commentator Tomi Lahren, Bartels iterated, “If I don’t have a country, a free country, I’m not gonna have a union.” This could mark the beginning of a shift away from organized labor’s uncritical support of the Democratic Party.

Major union leaders Shawn Fain of the United Auto Workers only endorsed Biden as recently as January of 2024 and Sean O’Brien of the Teamsters has said they will not be issuing an endorsement until after both party conventions. At the end of the day, both the Democrats and the Republicans represent big business interests as a part of the American two-party system. Neither party can fully represent the needs of working people and simultaneously serve the interests profiting off their labor. This presidential election may cause major splits in organized labor which could lay the ground for the development of a true anti-monopoly and pro-labor party here in the United States of America. With such a platform, the will of the American working class could be united and focused into the political system to perhaps enact pressure and progressive changes not seen since the campaign of Henry A. Wallace of the Progressive Party in 1948.