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UAW President Shawn Fain is a rising star for the Democratic Party

After some historic victories for the labor movement, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain could be the man to make the biggest difference for President Biden in key Midwest states this fall.

The union leader rose to prominence over the past year by leading the UAW to some of its most significant gains in decades. He is a captivating speaker who commands the attention and trust of many workers at a time when Biden is struggling to connect with voters due to rising prices and Israel’s destructive war in Gaza.

“We need to know who is going to support us!” And this choice is clear. Joe Biden bet on the American worker, while Donald Trump blamed the American worker! » Fain said in a rousing speech endorsing Biden in January.

Fain’s star power, along with the union’s long-standing support and push for Democratic voter turnout, will be crucial in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other industrial states that may rely on a few thousands of votes, say political and union experts.

“Shawn Fain has done an extraordinary job to restore the union to where it belongs – not only on the front of the labor movement but also on the front of progressive struggles,” said Steve Rosenthal, former political director of the federation union AFL-CIO. . “He will have enormous credibility.”

The key in swing states will be turning out working-class voters who might otherwise stay home, a task for which Fain can have an impact “perhaps beyond that of any other person,” said Larry Cohen, former president of the Communications Workers of America union and a Democratic operative working on voter turnout.

Asked about politics in an interview, Fain said he was focused on his work at the UAW, including unionizing a series of Southern auto plants and negotiating a new contract for Daimler workers Truck, who got hefty raises in a deal announced Friday night. But he pledged to help Biden, saying the goals of the labor movement depend on electing politicians who support him.

“I currently run a union and our number one goal is to recruit and win good contracts,” he said. “But obviously, you know, politics is part of all of this. And where I can support the president, I will support him.

Biden, he added, is aligned with the union on the biggest issues facing the working class, including wages, health care and retirement security. “And that’s why we supported him against Donald Trump, who represents the billionaire class and the corporate class, and who doesn’t care about workers,” said Fain, who got his start as an electrician at Chrysler.

This message resonates with many autoworkers. Bill Bagwell, a longtime UAW member at a General Motors plant in Michigan, said workers at GM, Ford and Stellantis were pleased with the big raises they received after last year’s strikes , which could motivate them more for the election season.

“There are members who may have been hesitant last time and who may have voted for Donald Trump, who now have a much better relationship with their union and may be more willing to do what the union asks them to do,” Bagwell said.

Supporting Biden while attempting to organize big factories in red states forces Fain and the UAW a difficult balancing act. The union’s support for Biden angered some Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the weeks before the plant voted to join the UAW, workers said. As the vote approached, UAW organizers took pains to tell workers they were free to support any politician they wanted. Supporting Biden wholeheartedly could prove more difficult as the UAW expands to more factories across the South, including Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

Biden campaign aides say they plan to work with Fain regularly over the coming months, but have not provided details. Fain was Biden’s guest at the State of the Union conference last month and received shoutouts during the speech, but he did not appear at campaign events.

“We are proud to have earned the support of the UAW and join them in their mission to hold businesses accountable, strengthen our unions and grow our middle class,” said Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Director Biden campaign, in a press release.

Campaign officials have celebrated and amplified Fain’s comments in recent months, hoping the increasingly popular figure will help the president burnish his image with blue-collar voters. While union leaders overwhelmingly support Biden, some rank-and-file members supported Donald Trump in previous elections.

Biden regularly touts his presidency as the most pro-union in American history, and aides say he plans to rely on unions to spread his message about growing the economy. He has attended union meetings several times in recent months, including an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers conference and a United Steelworkers event.

“Unions are more popular today than they have ever been in a long, long time, not because of Joe Biden’s support, but because of you,” Biden said Thursday after receiving the support from North American building trades unions. “You always step up. You step into the breach. You get things done.

Some Democratic strategists say Fain could even help Biden deal with party-wide discontent over the administration’s handling of the Israel-Gaza war. a source of particular concern for Democrats in Michigan, which has a large Arab-American population. Both Fain and the UAW called for a ceasefire early in the dispute, after it became an issue among some members of the union, which represents not only autoworkers but also students graduates employed by universities. Fain said the union was still pressuring Biden on Gaza, but he stressed that Trump would be worse for the conflict and for the labor movement.

“In the next election, one in two people will be president of the United States. And obviously the other candidate would be a total disaster, not only for the job, but for the situation in Gaza,” Fain said. “We speak quite often with the president and his team about our concerns in Gaza and that more action is needed. And we will continue to do so.

Fain and Biden have engaged in a complicated dance since the UAW president was elected a year ago. White House officials, who did not know Fain well at the time, were forced to pay attention to him as the new UAW leader publicly criticized the Biden administration for policy disagreements and pointedly refused the union’s support for the Democratic president from the start.

“Our support will be deserved. They will not be given away for free, as they have been in the past,” Fain told the Washington Post last year. Among his complaints was the administration’s use of billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize battery and electric vehicle factories without requiring high wages for workers.

Biden launched a charm offensive, inviting Fain to the Oval Office to discuss the transition to electric vehicles, speaking to him several times by telephone and, for the first time for a sitting president, joining a picket line of the UAW as workers struck Detroit’s Big Three automakers last year. . Biden also pushed Jeep maker Stellantis to reopen a shuttered factory in Illinois, a deal that helped resolve strikes.

“If our support is to be earned, Joe Biden has earned it,” Fain said at an autoworker conference in January.

The UAW has long played a role in mobilizing voters, reminding its members to vote and making sure they know how to check their registration status and access absentee ballots. Union members also knock on doors to distribute information about candidates.

“I see President Fain playing that role in encouraging members to vote for President Biden, but his style is to let the members decide,” said Scott Houldieson, a friend of Fain and a UAW factory worker. Ford in Chicago. “He will present the facts to the members.”

Jeff Timmer, former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party and now a senior adviser to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, said he thought Fain would try to maintain an “independent broker status.”

“I don’t think it would be fair to characterize him as a Democratic surrogate,” he said. “The Democratic Party is certainly the closest ally, but it’s the UAW first, then the Democratic Party second.”

Fain said one of his main messages is to convince workers that voting is important.

“The reason we find ourselves in the predicament we are in now – where three American families have as much wealth as half of Americans – is because half of America doesn’t even vote , because they have had enough,” he said in the interview. “They feel like it doesn’t matter. And we need to make people understand that this matters. And the only way to change that is to vote. Because no matter how much money the rich have and how much money they throw into politics, working class people have the votes.”

Although Fain has been a strong supporter of Biden, he could play a more critical role in undermining Trump’s appeal among grassroots members, said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Trump lashed out at Fain, calling him a “weapon of mass destruction” against autoworkers. Trump spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said via email that the former president “kept his promises” to union workers when he was in the White House and would “put them first again when he is re-elected.

During his speech in support of Biden, Fain launched an offensive against the former president, claiming that Trump did not speak out during the 2019 auto workers’ strike and that he “does not didn’t care about the workers. Trump, he said, was a “scab.”

News Source : www.washingtonpost.com
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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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