Teamsters President to Speak at Republican Convention

(Bloomberg) -- Teamsters union president Sean O’Brien will speak at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee next month, former President Donald Trump announced, a move that could undercut President Joe Biden’s appeal to blue-collar, union workers.

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The influential labor group has yet to endorse a presidential candidate, but O’Brien had requested to speak at both party conventions. It’s unclear if Democrats have invited him to speak at their gathering in August. Biden won the union’s endorsement in 2020.

Trump, in a Friday post on his Truth Social platform, said he was “looking forward” to seeing O’Brien represent the union at the convention. It will be the first time a Teamsters president will speak at the GOP convention, according to the union.

The invitation from Trump highlights his efforts to make inroads with the union’s members. It also shows how competitive a group blue-collar workers will be in the November election, even for Biden, who has labeled himself the most pro-labor president in history.

Trump in January met with O’Brien, the union’s executive board leadership officials, as well as rank-and-file members. Biden met with the group’s leaders in March.

“Our 1.3 million members represent every political background, and their message needs to be heard by as wide an audience as possible, and that includes all political candidates running for elected office,” said Teamsters spokesperson Kara Deniz. “We appreciate former President Trump’s openness to inviting a labor leader to speak on behalf of working families.”

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The Democratic National Convention has not yet finalized its programming decisions, according to people involved with the planning who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We are building a convention in Chicago that will tell our story to the American people, including the stories of labor and union leaders and workers that President Biden has been delivering for as the most pro-union president in modern history,” said Democratic convention spokesperson Matt Hill.

Trump and Biden have made a significant push to court union workers across the swing states, whose vote could prove crucial for winning the general election.

Biden kicked off his reelection campaign last June at a union-backed rally where he received the endorsement of the AFL-CIO labor coalition and other groups. He also received backing from the United Auto Workers after he joined a picket line last fall with firebrand union president Shawn Fain during its strike against Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

In recent weeks, though, Trump has seized on anxiety over Biden’s electric-vehicle transition that has rattled some unionized auto workers.

The Republican candidate has made his opposition to Biden’s policies to bolster EV sales a centerpiece of his appeal to workers at carmakers and during a meeting last week with GOP lawmakers, he vowed to undo those measures if he wins the election.

(Updates to add details on Democratic National Convention planning, starting in seventh paragraph.)

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