UAW endorses Biden; Union President describes Trump as “scabies”

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President Joe Biden received a key 2024 endorsement on Wednesday from the United Auto Workers union, with the union president using the occasion to attack Biden’s likely general election rival, Donald Trump.

Sean Fine announced the UAW’s support for Biden’s re-election bid at their semiannual convention in Washington, D.C

“I know there are some people who want to ignore this election,” Finn said. “They don’t want to have anything to do with politics. Others want to argue endlessly about the latest headline, scandal, or stupid quote. Elections aren’t just about choosing your best friend for office or the candidate who makes you feel good. Elections are about power.”

The support of the Michigan-based UAW, which has more than 400,000 members, could give Biden an advantage in a key battleground state that helped define recent political elections. He won Michigan by about 150,000 votes in 2020; Trump won it by about 10,000 votes four years ago.

Biden also received the group’s endorsement in 2020, and it backed Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016.

But Trump was successful in battlegrounds like Michigan and Ohio that election cycle, in part because he was able to attract more union support than previous GOP candidates: The UAW said at the time that it believed one in four of its members were likely to vote In favor of Trump based on surveys.

“The question is, who do we want in that position to give us the best chance of winning?” Finn said Wednesday. “Who gives us the best chance to organize? Who gives us the best chance to negotiate strong contracts? Who gives us the best chance to unite the working class and win our fair share again?”

Photo: Sean Fine, president of the United Auto Workers, speaks at the United Auto Workers convention in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2024.

Sean Fine, president of the United Auto Workers, speaks at the UAW convention in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2024.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biden, who is increasingly publicly preparing to take on Trump in the general election, also delivered his remarks. He thanked the union for its support and praised members for inspiring the labor movement with their strike last year against the Big Three automakers.

“Let me just say, I’m honored to support you and you support me, that’s the deal,” Biden said. “It’s about seeing the world the same way, it’s not that complicated.”

Fine described the 2024 race as a choice between Biden and Trump and did not mince words in his criticism of the former president. He specifically took issue with Trump’s handling of the 2019 union strike, arguing that Trump did “no damn thing” while UAW members confronted General Motors at plants across the United States.

“Donald Trump is a mange,” Fine said. “Donald Trump is a billionaire, and that’s what he stands for. If Donald Trump worked in an auto plant, he wouldn’t be a member of the UAW — he would be a company man trying to squeeze the American worker.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Fein’s comments.

Photo: President Joe Biden greets Sean Fine, president of the United Auto Workers, as he arrives to speak at the UAW's political convention in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2024.

President Joe Biden is greeted by UAW President Sean Fine as he arrives to speak at the UAW’s political convention in Washington, D.C., on January 24, 2024.

Alex Brandon/AP

Last year, Biden joined UAW members who went on strike in Michigan against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis on the picket line in a historic show of support for workers amid contract negotiations with auto giants for better wages and conditions.

“If he had to have our endorsement, Joe Biden got it,” Fine said Wednesday.

Biden, who described himself as the most “pro-union” president, told members that unionized workers play an essential role in his economic vision of building the economy from the middle out and from the bottom up.

“Together, we are proving what I have always believed,” Biden said. “Wall Street did not build America. The middle class built America, and the unions built the middle class.”

He continued: “As long as I am president, the workers will get their fair share. You deserve it.”

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks during the United Auto Workers political convention in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2024.

President Joe Biden speaks during the United Auto Workers political convention in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2024.

Alex Brandon/AP

Trump also visited Michigan last September just one day after Biden to try to woo auto workers and union members. He gave a speech at a non-union factory.

In that speech, Trump reiterated his rhetoric of economic nationalism and described himself as the only candidate who wants to protect American workers, a key pledge of his previous campaigns.

He also attacked Biden over federal government environmental regulation that clamps down on automobile exhaust pollution, which would encourage more electric vehicle manufacturing — while also raising concerns for auto workers like those in the UAW. Biden has said he wants to invest in the auto industry to stimulate more use of electric vehicles to address climate change.

Trump took a darker view.

“You’re all on the picket lines and everything, but there’s not much difference in what you get because in two years — you’ll all be out of work. You’re not going to get anything. What they’re doing to the auto industry in Michigan and all over the world,” he said in September. “It’s absolutely terrible and ridiculous across the country.”

ABC News’ Lale Epsa and Soo-Rin Kim contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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