In an appearance on Fox News, Shawn Fain, a key figure in the United Auto Workers (UAW), openly critiqued Joe Biden’s aggressive push for electric vehicles (EVs) and suggested that a majority of UAW members might favor former President Trump instead in the 2024 election.
Fain began Thursday morning by acknowledging the importance of environmental sustainability, a value deeply ingrained in the UAW’s history. “We have to have an environment we can all live in where we can breathe clean air and have clean water,” he said. However, he also expressed his apprehension about the rapid transition to EVs, stressing the need to ensure any shift includes “good wages, good benefits” so workers can live off their jobs.
Fain’s most striking comments came when discussing the political leanings of UAW members. He candidly acknowledged a shift in union member support away from the Democratic Party, traditionally allied with labor unions.
“Look, let me be clear about this: a great majority of our members will not vote for President Biden. Uh… yes, some will, uh… but that’s the reality of this,” Fain said. “The major majority of our members are going to vote their paychecks. They’re gonna vote for an economy that works for them, and they’re gonna vote for president.”
“When you look at these two presidents, the choice is very clear about which one stands up with the working class and stands up for labor, and which one stands for the billionaire class – and that’s his base,” he finished.
The UAW has been one of the most influential labor unions in the US, historically associated with the automotive industry. The UAW’s presidential election leanings have generally been towards the Democratic Party in the past, although 2024 might start a new trend.
During its early years, the UAW was involved in organizing major sit-down strikes and played a significant role in the labor movement. The union generally supported the New Deal policies of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In more recent years, the UAW has generally endorsed Democratic candidates for the presidency, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The UAW endorsed the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, in the 2020 presidential election.
However, like many unions, the UAW’s membership is diverse, and there are varying political opinions among its members. This diversity sometimes leads to a mix of support for candidates from both major parties, depending on the issues at stake and the perceptions of the candidates’ stances on labor and economic policies.
In the 2016 election, where Donald Trump first emerged as a presidential candidate, there was a significant shift among traditional Democratic supporters, including some union members, towards Trump. His campaign messages about bringing back manufacturing jobs and renegotiating trade deals like NAFTA resonated with many workers in industries like auto manufacturing, who felt left behind by globalization and economic policies of previous administrations.
While many union leaders criticized Trump’s policies and actions to labor rights and benefits, a notable portion of union members supported him, often due to his stance on issues like trade and job creation.