Fact Check: Pennsylvania Boilermakers Union Supports Trump, Not Joe Biden

US President Donald Trump pumps his fists as he arrives for a "Make America Great Again" rally at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina, on July 17, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

CLAIM: Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden falsely claimed at an ABC News town hall event in Pittsburgh that the Boilermakers union in Pennsylvania has endorsed him against President Trump.

VERDICT: FALSE. The Boilermakers Local 154 union, in a letter issued last month, endorsed Trump for re-election over Biden.

Biden was asked by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos about his support for ending fracking. In response, Biden falsely claimed that the Boilermakers Local 154 union endorsed him, though they endorsed Trump for president.

The exchange went as follows:

Stephanopoulos: You said you don’t want to ban fracking. As you know, it’s an important issue here in Pennsylvania. Not everyone buys your denial. A member of the Boilermakers Local 154 Shawn Steffee was quoted in the New York Times today saying ‘You can’t have it both ways,’ he says ‘You can’t meet your goals to end fossil fuels without ending fracking.’ What do you say to people like Shawn who doubt your denial because they think you want to keep that promise?

Biden: I’d tell them the Boilermakers overwhelmingly endorse me, okay. So the Boilermakers unions endorse me because I sat down with them, went into great detail with their leadership on exactly what I would do, number one.

The Boilermakers Local 154 union represents more than 2,500 workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.

“As the United States continues to lead the world in oil and natural gas production it is imperative that we continue to battle over-regulations in the fossil fuel industries and fight for American energy production,” Boilermakers Local 154 union leader John Hughes said in a statement.

Hughes called Trump a “true friend of the Boilermakers” in his endorsement, citing how union members and their families “rely on coal-fired power generation and we strongly encourage the advancement of Carbon Capture technologies which can secure future jobs for our members.”

Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) support for ending fracking, which they now have walked back, would destabilize energy industry workers, and workers in supporting industries. In a recent report by the New York Times, union workers expressed their concerns with Biden’s green energy plan.

The Times reports:

But even union leaders who back Mr. Biden acknowledged their rank-and-file is divided. And at least one powerful union leader, Shawn Steffee, a business agent and executive board member with the Boilermakers Local 154, has come out strongly for Mr. Trump. [Emphasis added]

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris want nothing to do with the fossil fuel industry. He’s flip flopped so many times, and President Trump has embraced fossil fuels, natural gas and coal,” Mr. Steffee said. [Emphasis added]

A 35-year Democrat before voting for Mr. Trump in 2016, Mr. Steffee said he plans to vote Republican again and believes most of his membership will, too. Their top issue: energy. [Emphasis added]

In December 2019, before the Chinese coronavirus crisis sent the American economy into a downward whirlwind, analysis from the Philadelphia Inquirer noted the gains for steel workers, manufacturing, and energy industry workers.

One of Trump’s most economically boosting policies for American workers has been his imposition of tariffs on foreign steel, foreign aluminum, and billions of dollars worth of made-in-China products.

As of June 2019, there were nearly 1,500 more workers in Pennsylvania’s metal manufacturing industry — from 34,763 at the start of 2017 to 36,249 by mid-2019. Before the pandemic, Steel Dynamics, Texas’ Big River Steel, and Nucor all planned to open new steel plants in the coming years.

Likewise, manufacturing employment in Pennsylvania increased more than four percent from 2017 to 2019. In December 2019, there were nearly 580,000 manufacturing workers across the state — a nearly 23,000 employment gain from the start of 2017 when less than 557,000 workers were in manufacturing.

In the natural gas distribution industry, there has been a net gain between 2001 to the end of 2019. In 2001, there were about 4,356 workers in natural gas distribution in Pennsylvania. By December 2019, that total ticked up to nearly 5,000 workers.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder


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