What to Know in Washington: Biden Courts Union Rank-and-File

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President Joe Biden will celebrate a labor deal for port workers at the White House today, a bid to showcase his support for unions even as another contract dispute involving the auto industry threatens to rattle the economy and upend supply chains.

Biden will welcome the leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association to congratulate them on the successful negotiations that led to a six-year labor contract that covers cargo handling operations at 29 ports up and down the West Coast, according to a White House official. The president intends to use the event to underscore the administration’s efforts to empower American workers and strengthen supply chains, citing it as an example of Bidenomics at work.

Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg
President Joe Biden during an event with the International Union of Operating Engineers on Wednesday, April 19, 2023.

It’s the latest effort from the White House to repair Biden’s ties with organized labor’s rank-and-file, a bloc of voters that will be crucial to his reelection hopes, but who are on edge because of high inflation and a softening job market.

The ports agreement is one of a number of labor deals that have seen Biden avoid the potential for economically crippling work stoppages, including for freight-rail workers and an agreement between UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Talks involving the United Auto Workers and Detroit’s legacy automakers are proving to be the most contentious yet, with the union’s 150,000 members threatening a strike against General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis if a deal is not reached by Sept. 14.

Biden’s signature effort to transition the US to electric vehicles is also a factor in the negotiations, with the wages and benefits of workers in EV battery plants and whether the UAW can represent them a major obstacle. The UAW endorsed Biden in 2020 but has yet to support his reelection campaign, with union President Shawn Fain saying Democrats need to do more to support autoworkers. Jenny Leonard outlines the conflict.


  • The president hosts leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association at the White House to give remarks on their new contract covering West Coast ports shortly after 2 p.m.
  • Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a briefing at 1 p.m.


  • The Senate is back at 10 a.m. to vote on nominees to the Federal Reserve and National Labor Relations Board.

Rhode Island Special Election

Democrat Gabe Amo, who worked in the White House for both the Obama and Biden administrations, came out atop a 12-name ballot in Rhode Island’s special primary held yesterday, besting a progressive who had campaign help from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Greg Giroux reports.

The son of immigrants from Ghana and Liberia, Amo could become the first Black candidate elected to the House from that state.

Amo will face Republican Gerry Leonard, a Marine veteran, in the Nov. 7 special election. The seat is open due to Rep. David Cicilline’s (D) career change, and another seat is soon to become vacant when Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) exits due to his wife’s health.

Happening on Capitol Hill

Tuberville Digs In

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) is digging deeper on his single-senator blockade, which has already stalled 301 military promotions, with aides saying his complaint now is compounded by liberal “woke” sentiment among officers in line for top jobs in addition to his previous crusade against the Pentagon’s abortion policies.

GOP Concerns About Tax-Exempt Groups May Prompt Probes

House Republicans’ newly raised queries about how tax-exempt organizations may be engaging in political activities suggest a broader congressional probe and a potential nudge to long-awaited updated IRS guidance.

Congress Set to Sell East Coast’s Gas Reserve

Congress is poised to sell off a 1 million barrel emergency cache of gasoline created in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy amid questions about the reserve’s usefulness.

People, Power, and Politics

Trump Eyes More Tariff-Heavy Policy

Donald Trump and his advisers are mapping out an economic agenda with harsher trade policies and deeper tax cuts if he returns to the White House, stirring anxiety within the business community of potential retaliatory measures.

Trump Risks Tainting Washington Jury Pool

Trump’s daily statements about the election obstruction case in Washington threaten to “prejudice” the jury pool in the nation’s capital, US prosecutors told a judge.

Biden Names New Campaign Aides

Biden has named new top aides to his 2024 reelection bid, including Ammar Moussa as director of rapid response, his campaign and Democratic National Committee officials told Politico. Additionally, Grace Landrieu — who was previously director for economic policy and labor at the National Economic Council — will serve as campaign’s policy director and Carla Frank will be director of the national advisory board and surrogate operations.

DeSantis’ High Court Makeover Isolates Longtime Florida Justice

The Florida Supreme Court’s reshaping of death penalty, gun rights, and diversity training standards has turned one justice on the all-Republican panel into the lone dissenter.

Ex-GOP Rep. Mike Rogers Seeking Michigan Senate Seat

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R), who led the House Intelligence Committee for two terms, declared his candidacy today for Michigan’s open Senate seat.

Proud Boys Leader Gets 22 Years

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former chair of the far-right Proud Boys, was ordered to serve 22 years in prison for his role in a seditious plot to halt the government’s peaceful transfer of power, the stiffest punishment so far for those involved in the attack on the nation’s Capitol.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Anti-ESG Firm Has $1 Billion in ETF Assets

Strive Asset Management, an anti-activism fund company co-founded by Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy, has crossed $1 billion in assets even as it comes under legal scrutiny.

What Else We’re Reading

Blinken Vows to Give Ukraine Counteroffensive Support

The US will ensure Ukraine is equipped to defeat Russia and rebuild its economy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a visit to Kyiv where he met with the country’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

FTC’s Amazon Antitrust Suit Likely to Be Filed in September

The FTC is likely to sue Amazon this month, targeting the company’s marketplace, capping a four-year antitrust investigation into the company.

To contact the reporters on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at gmacri@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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