A Shop Divided: Union Members Split Over Biden And Trump
It's here and now Democratic nominee Joe Biden and met with the president of the United Steelworkers yesterday on a whistle stop tour through Pennsylvania and Ohio. Biden is trying to win back union working class voters in the Midwest that helped President Trump win the election in 2016. The president is making the pitch that he's saved American manufacturing, But there are 66,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in Michigan, compared to July 2019 and 48,000 fewer in Ohio. Let's check in with a few union voters. Now Tim Petrovsky is the president of the United Steelworkers. Local 1900, South Lyon, Michigan. Tim. Welcome here now. Thank you. Thanks for having me Joe Biden, clearly making an effort to reach unions and working class voters in this campaign. But do you think he has a chance to get back some of that support that Democrats lost four years ago? I think he has the opportunity. I think it's a tough climb, but I do believe it can happen. Early on 2016 the manufacturing here in Michigan Steel business. It took a pretty good boom. A lot of that was already building but you know, the credit was given that way. You know, one of the things now, obviously, with the mishandling of the Corona virus and everything, a lot of our shops were shut down. The steel is not what it was promised to be the opportunity to speak with Vice President Biden two weeks ago when he was in doing his tour of Detroit, he met with four of us US W workers in one of the things we talked about was the ways to bring manufacturing jobs back to Michigan, he seemed he had a good plan to bring back good paying union jobs, not just jobs. Like it. Our mill we sell Yusa made pipe in our steals bought here in America, and one of the things he promised was to spend government money on products made in America. Right, so if they're going to use steel, they're going to use our steel. But, you know, I remember one of the very early executive orders that President Trump issued was promised to do just that to use US steel in pipelines, for instance, and he's made a big show of supporting the steel industry. Over the years, President Trump has he's slapped tariffs on Chinese steel. He's blamed People like Joe Biden for supporting trade deals like NAFTA. That he says is outsourced American jobs. I mean, what do you make of the argument that President Trump has been good for the American steel industry? Listen, I'm not goingto sit here and say that I don't believe in the beginning that it It was good. You know, it's a released it appeared that way. You know 16 17 even on into 18. The steel was good. I mean, our shop definitely was on optics. We hired 100 people. So we went from 140 ish people, The 2 50. But here we are 2020 in October now And we're down over 100 people. We actually have less people working than we did during that that rise where we're seeing that union leaders are likely to stick with Democrats this election. Just like they did in 2016, But with the rank and file, Tim, what about that? What? You're hearing from the rank and file your coworkers. The guys you work next to Now that's where it's. It's different. Obviously, the higher ups at the U. S W A W Things like that They support Democratic candidates. But there's a lot of people in our shop 20 years ago, this place would have been 95% Democrats. And now it's really split that I'd probably have to say something like 60 40 Republican over Democrat now, So on a lot of that is because of the up flux we had over the last couple of years. They gave that credit there. But now that you know, we're not working as much with the Corona virus or whatever reason. You know they're not willing to associate the blame as well. Right? So it's a really It's a shop divided anymore with the rank and file. I'm curious when you got to work yesterday were people talking about Tuesday's presidential debate. What? What did you hear from folks? Oh, man, it's ah, you know, as the union president at our shop, knowing that our shop is divided I try to avoid the politics conversation honestly at work, but no, it was. It was the big talk. I mean, that that debate was it was something right. I mean, it was Ah. I think it It was not good on believe not good on both sides here at work, even though Trump supporters were not happy with the way he handled himself. And the Biden supporters here were not happy with the lack of message. So, yeah, I mean, it's it's really divided. Tim Petrosky, president of the United Steelworkers, Local 1900 in south Lie in Michigan. Tim, Thanks for taking time out of your day to speak with us. No problem.