By Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa
Published in the Detroit News, April 3, 2019
Michigan finds itself at the forefront of the 2020 presidential election conversation.
Thanks to the slim victory voters gave to President Trump here in 2016, those running for president this time know they need to win the Great Lakes State if they want to reach the White House. So even though it’s still more than a year-and-a-half away until the next general election, contenders are coming to Michigan to talk about the issues.
It may seem ridiculously early. But Michiganians would be wise to engage in the process now. It’s these first months of the campaign when candidates will be fleshing out their platforms and crafting the policy ideas that they will be prioritizing. And workers must make sure that kitchen table issues that support families are the main topic of discussion.
Securing good-paying jobs that will remain in this country is important. Ensuring quality health care benefits are available for everyone is important. And guaranteeing that those who worked hard all their lives will be able to retire with dignity is important.
As presidential contenders continue their tours of Michigan in the weeks and months ahead, it is essential that would-be voters educate themselves. What are the candidates’ views of the future for working Americans? And how will they affect not only workers today, but their children and grandchildren who will need to support themselves in the decades to come?
The Teamsters have been leading the fight on these issues for years. And the union plans to take all the time it needs to consider all these important factors and speak with a united voice for its members. To that end, the Teamsters have unveiled protocols for the 2020 presidential election that explain the process and dictate how candidates interested in obtaining Teamster support should work to do so.
Highlighted among top concerns of the union is preventing the looming pension and retirement crisis; ensuring U.S. workers are represented in international trade deals; and protecting wages and labor standards. Candidates seeking the endorsement of the Teamsters must understand the importance unions play in the working lives of the American worker. Supporting organizing efforts and standing for fairness and respect in the workplace is essential.
As the union’s endorsement process moves forward, the Teamsters will seek input from local union leaders in Michigan and across the country to ensure that the candidate that earns the union’s support best represents its political priorities. While the Teamsters recognize that members may not agree on everything, working together, this union can help select and support a candidate who will grow and strengthen this union for workers and unify this country.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this year put forward her vision for the state, one that rebuilds its transportation and water infrastructure so that people and businesses alike benefit. Doing so will require more workers, which in turn will create middle-class jobs. That is great news for state residents.
But not everything can be done at the state level. Michigan requires a national partner who realizes that it is not just jobs, but the quality of those jobs that matters. U.S. leadership should realize that those who played by the rules should have the ability to provide a comfortable life for their loved ones, and retire with the benefits they were promised.
That needs to be the goal of anyone seeking to be president.