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Union endorsements 'less important' than previous elections: Professor

Striking auto workers have yet to formally endorse President Biden after he joined a United Auto Workers (UAW) picket line in Michigan on Tuesday. Wayne State University Business Professor Marick Master explains why unions' presidential endorsements may not be as significant now than in previous election cycles.

"The auto workers have never been of a single mind when it comes to politics," Master states. "There's always been division, and there is a sizable conservative or populist wing in the auto workers membership, and trump appealed to that in 2016.

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Video transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: How important is a political backing and endorsement from unions in a presidential election?

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MARICK MASTERS: Well, I would say it's certainly less important than it was if you go back to 1968, when the UAW put a lot of effort in trying to elect Hubert Humphrey president, when, in fact, a substantial number of the UAW members supported George Wallace. I think you're in the same kind of situation now.

The auto workers have never been of a single mind when it comes to politics. There's always been division, and there is a sizable conservative or populist wing in the auto worker membership, and Trump appealed to that in 2016, perhaps somewhat less so in 2020, but he's here to broaden that appeal, and he's going to appeal directly over Sean Fein's head.

He has no interest in talking to Sean Fein. He wants to talk to the membership, and he knows that there are a lot of people that work in the auto industry that are employed by non-union employers, and he's concerned about the exodus of jobs and the fact that America is behind in the electric vehicle manufacturing game, so to speak, and that if we don't do something to catch up quickly, we're going to lose the industry.