Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is joining striking auto workers and teachers on the campaign trail next week, his campaign announced Friday.
The Sanders campaign announced the Vermont socialist’s intention of joining striking teachers in Chicago next week, followed by a visit with striking auto workers in Detroit– moves his campaign likely hopes will advance his reputation as a candidate who backs workers:
— Adam Kelsey (@adamkelsey) September 20, 2019
“Throughout the campaign, Sanders has stood on multiple picket lines with workers and has used his email and text lists to urge his supporters to stand with striking workers across the country,” his campaign stated.
“In August, he released his Workplace Democracy Plan, which would double union membership during his term and give workers unprecedented protections in the workplace,” it continued.
However, one of Sanders’ visits will occur Wednesday, days after presidential rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) visit with the striking auto workers. She is expected to join the United Auto Workers “on the picket line outside GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant on Sunday,” according to Reuters.
Sanders, for his part, has told GM to “end the greed, sit down with the UAW and work out an agreement that treats your workers with the respect and the dignity they deserve,” Reuters reports.
Warren and Sanders have been attempting to assert themselves as the most pro-worker candidates. Both contenders have made time for protesting workers on the campaign trail, joining food workers in a minimum wage protest at Reagan National Airport over the summer:
Warren delivered a strong pro-union message on Labor Day, declaring that unions will “rebuild the middle class.”
“Unions built the middle class—and unions will rebuild the middle class,” Warren wrote. “If we want more good American jobs, then we need stronger unions and more power in the hands of the people”:
Unions built the middle class—and unions will rebuild the middle class. If we want more good American jobs, then we need stronger unions and more power in the hands of the people. I’m proud to be fighting alongside our unions. #LaborDay pic.twitter.com/uoAqIq9tH2
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 2, 2019
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) August 30, 2019
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) September 2, 2019
Sanders’ campaign has also pushed the socialist senator’s pro-union position, particularly in recent days:
Bernie Sanders has understood union power for decades. https://t.co/GDojT92WPI
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) September 18, 2019
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) September 17, 2019
I stand with the members of @CWAUnion rallying today in California to to ensure that @FrontierCorp values their workers. Frontier must keep their promises and uphold union contracts. https://t.co/5sujNqJxxw
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 20, 2019
Sanders faced a stumbling block last month after proclaiming that his Medicare for All plan would “absolutely” erase union-negotiated health benefits:
The Washington Post followed up with a piece indicating that the Sanders campaign modified positions by noting that unions would continue to hold some capacity of negotiating powers via the National Labor Relations Board. However, the Sanders campaign was livid, with members of his campaign calling the report “100 percent wrong” and “bullshit”:
This headline from the Wash Post is 100% wrong – know how I know? Medicare for All is a Senate bill with exact text and co-sponsors. The text hasn’t changed.
Today Bernie introduces a labor proposal that provides additional value to worker contracts. https://t.co/xAh0su43Pn
— Josh Orton (@joshorton) August 22, 2019
Medicare for All Senate bill stays same
Bernie releases an aggressively pro-union platform that includes sectoral bargaining (!!) a right for federal workers to strike, and a provision to direct employer health savings to benefit worker contracts.
WaPo: M4A changed. https://t.co/gWQS1VgTq8
— Josh Orton (@joshorton) August 22, 2019
.@washingtonpost: You asked for an on-the-record comment on this bogus headline. Well, here it goes: Bullshit. Bernie wrote the damn bill & didn't amend it. We're proud of the union support for #MedicareForAll. When it passes they will receive higher wages and benefits – period. pic.twitter.com/ueeAxXFDFB
— Warren Gunnels (@GunnelsWarren) August 22, 2019
Nonetheless, the debate over union health benefits remains a point of contention and a political talking point frontrunner Joe Biden (D) has tried to use to his advantage:
Senators Sanders and Warren would put an end to the employer-sponsored and union-negotiated plans that more than 100 million Americans currently have.
That's a non-starter for us.#DemDebate
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 13, 2019