Former Vice President Joe Biden released a campaign ad heavily targeting union members on Monday in honor of Labor Day.
“Wall Street didn’t build this country,” Biden says in the ad. “Ordinary and middle class Americans given half a chance built it. And the only reason we have a middle class is unions. Not labor—unions. Organized labor—unions.”
Biden, who has often referred to himself as a “union man” on the campaign trail, pledged to champion organized labor in the White House as he claimed to have done in the past.
“As your president, I promise you, I will stand with you,” he said. “You look at my record, I’ve always stood with you and never been afraid to take on the opposition — the corporations and the big money.”
“There will be no trade agreement in my administration without organized labor sitting at he table,” Biden added. “God love ya, I need ya.”
This Labor Day, we celebrate the battles waged and victories won by organized labor. Unions built the great American middle class, and it’s time we recognize that.
I promise you if I’m elected president, unions will have no stronger champion in the White House. pic.twitter.com/u8kcyq5zBg
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 2, 2019
Biden’s message comes as Democrats no longer profess to have a lock on the labor vote. In 2016, President Donald Trump drew immense support from union members due to his strong stance on immigration, broadsides against free trade, and promise to bring back manufacturing jobs. The strategy was so successfully that even the AFL-CIO’s own analysis found Trump did substantially better among the its membership than any candidate since Ronald Reagan.
A similar situation appears poised to play out in 2020, with some labor leaders even urging Democrats not to take unions for granted. Biden, himself, seems to understand the predicament his party faces, but has been hamstrung by his 40-year political record and an increasingly left-leaning Democrat electorate. At the second primary debate last month, Biden sided with progressives by promising to ban coal and fracking outright if elected president.
“We would make sure it’s eliminated,” Biden replied when asked what role either of the energy sources would have in his administration.
Compounding problems for the former vice president is that there is still lingering distrust over his long-standing support for free trade deals like NAFTA and more the recent Trans Pacific Partnership—which Biden now claims he wants to “renegotiate.”