Decision 2020

Philadelphia's Largest Council of Construction Unions Endorses Joe Biden

The Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council told NBC10 on Tuesday that it was backing the Democratic challenger Joe Biden in his bid to unseat Republican President Donald Trump.

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A council that represents thousands of union construction workers in Philadelphia has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden as he and President Trump vie for votes and union support in all-important Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council, which includes 45 local unions in the greater Philadelphia region whose members it says "built the skyline", announced the endorsement Tuesday. 

"We have been working hard for Joe Biden for over the past four months,” the council’s President Ryan Boyer said in the release. “The Trades are proud to endorse Joe Biden for president and we look forward to helping him carry the important swing state of Pennsylvania."

The building trades council endorsement comes the week after the Philadelphia Firefighters’ and Paramedics’ Union endorsed President Trump, sparking a protest by some members unhappy with the choice. The International Association of Firefighters endorsed Biden last year.

Union endorsements can help campaigns reach large groups of voters and also mobilize volunteers. The endorsements don’t guarantee all members will follow the union’s recommendation, though. 

In the case of the building trades, some members voted for then-candidate Trump in 2016. Pat Eiding, who serves as secretary-treasurer of the trades council and president of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, said leaders will work to make the case for Biden.

“We still have a group of people out there that have bought into the idea (President Trump’s) going to create all these jobs - which by the way haven’t happened,” Eiding said. 

Eiding said leaders have to talk to members about the choice, and that there may be more open conversation this year because some people may not be as hesitant to share who they’re supporting. He also said they’ve developed literature with side-by-side comparisons of the candidates. 

Every endorsement in Pennsylvania is being fought for by the Biden and Trump campaigns as the race enters its final month. The Nov. 3 election could be very close in Pennsylvania, and the state projects to be among the most important for the winner to secure the needed 270 electoral college votes.

In a statement released to NBC10 by the former vice president’s campaign, Biden credited workers in the building trades for shaping the Philadelphia skyline and building “the very foundation our communities rely on.”

“As President, I will lead Pennsylvania and this country through an economic recovery powered by union jobs," Biden said. "And I will protect and expand the collective bargaining rights that President Trump has tried to chip away for years.”

Biden charged that “under the Trump Administration, union workers have been left out to dry while President Trump gives tax breaks to corporations and his wealthy friends on Park Avenue.”

In a statement responding to the endorsement, Trump campaign deputy national press secretary Samantha Zager said the president is seeing “strong support” from union members and local leaders “who know he’s the only candidate in the race that will protect their jobs and implement policies that help critical American trades like energy, hospitality and law enforcement.”

“President Trump’s 2016 victory sparked a realignment of blue collar workers who were tired of politicians like Joe Biden showing blind loyalty to union bosses while implementing policies that hurt workers and families,” Zager said in a statement. 

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