The United Farm Workers union is endorsing Joe Biden for reelection in next year’s presidential race, declaring that another Biden presidency would be a win for labor rights and the “daily lives of farmworkers across America.”
“I don’t think we’ve had this kind of support in a long time,” said UFW President Teresa Romero of the Biden administration. “Working with him [and] the vice president, we have been able to accomplish things that we have never been able to accomplish with anybody else.”
The UFW march to Sacramento is aimed at pressuring Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign legislation making it easier for the union to organize laborers.
The UFW announced its endorsement in a statement early Tuesday morning, noting that it will “organize, train, and deploy skilled organizers and Spanish-speaking farmworker membership and farmworker activists” in battleground states such as Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and Georgia.
The union — which said it has a membership of about 7,000 — lauded the Biden-Harris administration for authorizing a grant program to help farmworkers with pandemic-related health and safety costs, and for pushing H-2A visa reforms to strengthen farmworker protections. It also applauded Biden for voicing support for a bill, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in 2022, that makes it easier for agricultural laborers to join unions.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation as part of a rare agreement to allow farmworkers to unionize under a process known as “card-check” but not through mail-in ballots.
The endorsement comes as Biden is set to visit Michigan on Tuesday to walk the picket line in support of United Auto Workers strikers. It’s a move Politico described as “likely the most visible step any president has taken on behalf of striking workers.”
Biden spoke in favor of labor rights in a recent meeting with Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, highlighting that his administration “is characterized as the most pro-union administration in American history.”
Biden, however, was criticized when he signed a bill last December to block a railroad strike and forced workers to accept agreements that many of them opposed. “It was tough for me,” Biden said at a White House signing ceremony last year, adding that the bill was necessary to avoid a work stoppage ahead of the Christmas holiday.
Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s 2024 campaign manager, said in a statement that Biden “is a real fighter for workers, for Latinos, and for every human’s dignity.”
Cesar Chavez — who is Chavez Rodriguez’s grandfather — and co-organizer Dolores Huerta founded the National Farm Workers Assn., which in 1966 consolidated with the Filipino Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to become the UFW. Biden has made no secret of his admiration for Chavez — there is a bust of the civil rights leader behind his desk in the Oval Office.
The endorsement was “deeply personal,” Chavez Rodriguez said.
The UFW has struggled for years with decreasing membership. Some critics have said the union has not spent sufficient time organizing workers and winning contracts. Union leaders have called such criticism unfair, saying farmworkers are among the most vulnerable and difficult to organize as many are often undocumented, or, increasingly, temporary foreign guest workers.
The union has recently been calling for more protections for workers exposed to dangerous heat conditions.
“The UFW’s organizing has always been about standing up against injustice and fighting for working people. Those same values are at stake in this election, as MAGA Republican candidates for president would rather give handouts to the ultra-rich and powerful at the expense of hard-working Americans,” Chavez Rodriguez said.
Added Romero: “If we don’t have the immigrant workforce, that works day in and day out to put food on our tables, the agriculture industry will suffer, not only in California but throughout the country.”