The 1.4 million member trade union the International Brotherhood of Teamsters endorsed Joe Biden for president Tuesday, its board unanimously voting to throw its support behind the Democratic ticket.
The Teamsters’ announcement comes after two other major union endorsements this week and last from the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters and the postal carriers union, the National Association of Letter Carriers.
“The Teamsters have a friend in Joe Biden,” Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said in a statement. “From his very first election to the Senate until now, Vice President Biden has been on the side of working Americans supporting their right to organize, their desire for fair wages and their need for a secure retirement.”
The Biden campaign has made a big play for the labor vote going into the Democratic National Convention. The Teamsters, which is best known for representing freight drivers and warehouse workers, has a wide-reaching membership in a variety of public and private sector jobs, including agriculture, health care workers and law enforcement.
The union also represents the Biden campaign’s field organizers, who unionized under the Iowa-based Teamsters Local 238, securing a contract that guaranteed a $15 anhour minimum wage, overtime pay and a grievance process in May. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential campaign was the first major party campaign to unionize last year.
The Teamsters are the last of the five biggest labor unions to back Biden, a self-proclaimed “union guy.” The National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees all endorsed Biden’s campaign earlier this year.
While union membership continues to shrink in the United States, unions still represent roughly 14.6 million Americans, who are often reliable and mobilized voters. Unions play a significant role in getting people out to vote; for example, SEIU announced its plans to spend $150 million to get Democrats to the polls in November, targeting key states like Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Biden’s campaign has backed legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize, called for repealing “right to work” laws, which have weakened unions’ leverage nationwide, and released a plan to reinstate Obama-era labor rules that aimed to strengthen collective bargaining powers and employer transparency.
That said, Biden hasn’t always backed policies that have aligned with unions’ interests. He was a big advocate for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the failed 12-nation trade deal negotiated under the Obama administration. Unions like the Teamsters were against the agreement and supported the United States’ decision to walk away from the deal under Trump. Biden has since backed away from TPP, saying in 2019 he would renegotiate the agreement.
While those decisions haven’t stopped trade unions from endorsing Democrats, Biden still has ground to gain back among union members. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton underperformed Barack Obama among union workers.
The Teamsters have backed Democratic candidates for president going back two decades; they endorsed Clinton in 2016, as well as both of Obama’s campaigns.