© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sean O’Brien, President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, speaks to UPS Teamsters during a picket ahead of an upcoming possible strike, outside of a UPS Distribution Center in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., July 14, 2023. REUTERS/Brend
By Tim Reid and David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Donald Trump is due to meet with one of America’s biggest unions on Wednesday as he competes for the support of labor groups ahead of a likely general election rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden in November.
Trump is due to sit down with the leadership and some rank-and-file members of the Teamsters, just days after the Republican former president reacted angrily to losing out on the endorsement from another union, the United Auto Workers.
Trump’s meeting with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters comes during a 2024 presidential campaign in which the economy is front and center, and unions have seen a resurgence in the United States with many, including the Teamsters, winning new significant contracts.
Trump and Biden will likely target union votes in general election battleground states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump’s grip on the Republican presidential nomination has tightened after back-to-back nominating wins in Iowa and New Hampshire this month.
Trump will meet with bosses and members of the Teamsters at their Washington headquarters as the leadership of the 1.3 million-member union mulls which presidential candidate it will endorse ahead of November’s election.
Two hours before the scheduled meeting, the Trump campaign released a list of pledges by Trump, claiming that U.S. workers will benefit from his policies. They include tariffs on Chinese imports – a move many economists say will hurt U.S. workers and consumers – and closing the U.S.-Mexico border, another pledge that economists warn will adversely affect American manufacturers.
Sean O’Brien, the Teamsters president who met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida earlier this month, told Fox News on Jan. 24 that the union has also invited Biden to its headquarters, as it considers who to endorse.
“We think it’s important to meet with all the candidates. We have a very diverse membership,” O’Brien said. “We owe it to our members to do our due diligence and make the recommendation that’s in the best interest of the Teamster members nationwide.”
Union endorsements could be crucial in a presidential race among a closely divided electorate where just a few thousand votes in several key states could decide the 2024 election.
Since he first ran for president in 2016, Trump has increased support among blue-collar workers and is again telling them this year that he – and not Biden – will improve their lives economically.
Biden calls himself the most pro-union president in history, and the Teamsters endorsed him in 2020.
Biden received a coveted endorsement last week, from the leadership of the almost 380,000-strong United Auto Workers (UAW), another key labor group in the Midwest, an important election battleground.
Separately, Biden will be in Michigan on Thursday for a visit to a Detroit-area union hall to meet with UAW members, a campaign official told Reuters Tuesday.
UAW President Shawn Fain said that Biden had a history of serving the working class, while Trump “stands against everything we stand for,” citing among other things Trump’s appearance at a non-union hall during last year’s auto workers strike. He called Trump an anti-union “scab.”
Trump reacted furiously on his Truth Social platform on Sunday, calling Fain a “stiff” and a “dope”, and urging auto workers to vote for him and not Biden in November.