LAS VEGAS, Nevada – In an effort to shore up a key segment of the Democratic voting bloc ahead of the 2024 presidential election, President Joe Biden met with members of the influential Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas on Monday.
The visit came just one day before Nevada’s Democratic presidential primary contest, where Biden is expected to easily defeat his only challenger, author Marianne Williamson. Biden won 96% of the vote in South Carolina’s primary over the weekend.
While the primary poses little threat to Biden’s renomination, his Las Vegas trip signals the importance his campaign is placing on maintaining strong ties with organized labor, which largely broke for Biden over Donald Trump in 2020.
Biden Won Union Vote Handily Over Trump in 2020
According to exit polls, Biden bested Trump by 14 points among voters in union households of 2020 election. That margin was critical in carrying swing states like Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where unions hold significant sway.
With the general election now less than nine months away, Biden returned to Nevada this week to reinforce his pro-worker credentials. His Monday visit with Culinary Workers Union members at the Vdara Hotel included handshakes, photos and some brief remarks.
“Wall Street did not build America. The middle class built America,” Biden told the enthusiastic crowd. “Unions built the middle class. There would be no middle class without the unions.”
Wall Street didn’t build the middle class.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 5, 2024
Labor built the middle class.
And the middle class built America. pic.twitter.com/MgyWEcFnE9
Culinary Union Agreement Avoided Las Vegas Strike
Biden’s trip also served to spotlight the Culinary Union’s recently averted strike against casino resorts on the Las Vegas strip. With 60,000 members, it’s the city’s largest union.
Last week, the union reached 11th-hour contract agreements with several major resort operators – including MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts – improving wages and working conditions.
A strike likely would have crippled Las Vegas, a key industry in a state Biden narrowly won in 2020. Congratulating the union members on Monday, Biden said: “I came to say thank you, not just for the support you’ve given me, but for having the faith in the union.”
Unions Remain Vital to Biden’s Coalition
The visit echoed a similar stop last week, when Biden spoke with members of the United Auto Workers union in Michigan – another state that was critical to his 2020 triumph.
Political experts say Biden’s overt appeals to organized labor make clear unions remain an essential part of the Democratic coalition – especially in Midwestern swing states.
Despite overall declines in union membership, labor unions retain political clout in battleground states and districts that often decide close national elections. In visiting with the Culinary Workers this week and the UAW last week, Biden is shoring up support among those pivotal voting blocs.
Can Unions Help Biden Again in 2024?
While Biden’s support has eroded since the 2020 election, his campaign hopes a continued focus on “kitchen table” economic issues and championing unions can help Democrats prevail in the Midwestern swing states that sent Trump to the White House in 2016.
Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, said Biden’s union outreach “makes perfect strategic sense” as both parties begin to position themselves for the 2024 campaign.
“Unions remain an important constituency within the Democratic coalition,” he said. “Polls show union families tend to care more about economic issues like jobs, wages and benefits than cultural issues, which gives Biden an opening to peel off some working-class voters who’ve strayed from the Democratic fold.”