United Auto Workers union endorses Biden for president

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WASHINGTON — The United Auto Workers union endorsed President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

"If our endorsement must be earned, then Joe Biden has earned it!" UAW President Shawn Fain said in a lengthy speech before he introduced the president at the union's conference in Washington.

Fain railed against Donald Trump and his record, arguing that the former president hasn't had the backs of union members. "Donald Trump is a scab!" Fain said. "Donald Trump is a billionaire, and that's who he represents!"

Biden expressed enthusiasm in his remarks for UAW workers, saying: "I've always believed that the union movement in America is important because it produces the best-skilled workers in the world. That's what happens. It's good for everybody. It's good for companies. It increases the quality of the job, the quality of the product. It's good for economic growth."

Biden also took aim at his predecessor, saying jobs were lost and auto factories were closed during Trump's presidency.

"Tens of thousands of auto jobs were lost nationwide through Trump's presidency," he said. "During my presidency, we've opened 20 auto factories, and more to come. We've created more than 250,000 auto jobs all across America."

Biden alluded to his experience last fall when he became the first sitting president to join a picket line when he visited auto workers outside Detroit who were striking for higher wages and cost-of-living increases.

On Tuesday, Biden and Trump both picked up wins in the New Hampshire primaries, victories that could mark the quick end of the primary process and the beginning of the general election.

Image: Joe Biden (Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images)
Image: Joe Biden (Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images)

The UAW endorsement could carry significant political implications because of the influence on voters in Michigan, a critical battleground in the 2024 election. Biden narrowly won the state last cycle.

Trump has sought to win over rank-and-file union voters, winning over those who have felt that globalization and international trade have left behind those who built middle-class lives in manufacturing jobs. Trump's appeal to those voters has divided union members, whose leaders have traditionally aligned with Democrats while Republicans have historically worked more closely with the companies at odds with those unions.

Biden has long touted himself as the most pro-union president, but that message has fallen flat with some of those members who are concerned about immigration and trade, two big points Trump makes.

Biden has been endorsed by almost every other major union, including the AFL-CIO. But a few have stayed on the sidelines so far, including the Teamsters, the American Postal Workers Union and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The UAW typically endorses presidential candidates a bit later in the cycle. In 2020, it didn’t back Biden until late April.

Fain, as recently as Monday, had a message for political leaders seeking the union’s support.

“We have to make our political leaders stand up with us. Support our cause, or you will not get our endorsement,” he said.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com