The International Association of Fire Fighters endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president in a video released on Monday morning, becoming the first major labor group to officially support a presidential candidate in the 2020 campaign.
“On behalf of the International Association of Fire Fighters, I’m proud to announce that we stand with Joe Biden and endorse his candidacy for President of the United States,” Harold Schaitberger, the IAFF’s General President, said in the video.
“Joe’s a lot like our firefighters. He’s a problem solver who cares deeply about America and committed to making our country better. He’s one of the staunchest advocates for working families,” Schaitberger said. “He knows that a strong middle class means a strong America, and we know, as president, he will stand up for all the patriotic Americans who want nothing more than to earn a decent wage, send their kids to college, have affordable healthcare and a decent and secure retirement.”
The endorsement comes as the former vice president is set to hold his first official campaign event later Monday at a union hall in Pittsburgh where he’ll deliver remarks on the middle class.
Biden touted the endorsement Monday morning.
“I couldn’t be more proud to have the International Association of Fire Fighters on my team,” he wrote on Twitter. “Unions built the middle class in this country – and as President, I’ll fight to strengthen them and grow the backbone of this country.”
Biden has long enjoyed close ties to labor groups and often attributes his political ascent to unions, referring to them as the ones who “brung me to the dance.” In the weeks leading up to his 2020 campaign announcement, Biden ramped up his appearances before union groups, speaking at the IAFF legislative conference in March and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction and Maintenance Conference earlier this month. One week before launching his campaign, Biden attended a rally with striking Stop and Shop workers in the Boston area.
“Workers are not treated across the board with dignity,” Biden said. “Wall Street bankers and CEOs did not build America. You built America. We built America.”
He added, “The middle class built this place. And you know who built the middle class? Unions.”
Biden’s appearance in Pittsburgh also highlights the emphasis his campaign will place on the state of Pennsylvania, which Donald Trump won in 2016 after Barack Obama and Biden clinched the state in 2008 and 2012.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Biden will make stops in Iowa during his first visit to the state as a presidential candidate.