June 13, 2024

President Joe Biden will return to Philadelphia next Saturday to rally with union members in his first political event since announcing reelection, campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz told The Inquirer.

The rally is set to take place at the Convention Center, with doors opening sometime in the morning, according to a source with knowledge of the event plans.

Biden announced that he and Vice President Kamala Harris would seek reelection in a video released online in April. Since then he’s held fundraisers and traveled the country in his official capacity as president, touting the impact of construction projects funded by the infrastructure bill and other achievements from his first term.

The June 17 event, hosted by labor leaders and featuring Biden, will be the president’s first political event since his announcement. Specific logistics were not released.

The event is characteristic for Biden, who has roots in Scranton and has made frequent visits, both political and personal, to Philadelphia. It also reflects the emphasis his administration has put on labor.

Harris was in Philadelphia on Tuesday to meet with labor leaders from SEIU, which represents service employees in Philadelphia and across the country. The vice president, who heads a White House Task Force on labor, called for increasing wages for care workers and making it easier for workers to organize.

“Joe Biden lives, breathes, and cares so deeply about the importance of strengthening and uplifting working people, through strengthening and uplifting labor unions,” she said at the event.

Biden has frequently highlighted his ties to and support for labor unions, and has said a number of times that he intends to be “the most pro-union president” in history. He’s issued executive orders to promote labor agreements and access to unions. In March, the administration announced that the number of federal employees in a union increased by nearly 20% from September 2021 to September 2022. However, Biden was also criticized last December after signing legislation to block a national U.S. railroad strike that could have had a dire impact on the economy.

Support from unions was key to his win in key swing states in the 2020 election.

In March, he broke form and delivered his budget address from a union hall in Northeast Philadelphia instead of from Washington.

Last June, he headlined the AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia. “You’re a gigantic reason why I’m standing here,” he told the crowd then.

Labor backed him heavily in his 2020 run. The AFL-CIO, SEIU, and the American Federation of Teachers were among some of the big unions who endorsed his first run.

Danny Bauder, president of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, called the city’s labor movement “a microcosm of the labor movement nationally.”

“It’s a great location to highlight the history of our labor movement collectively.”

Bauder said Biden has stayed true to his promise to be a “pro-labor president” through his appointments to the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board. Labor leaders would like to see more people with worker-side labor law experience in the federal courts as well, he said. Those judges are appointed by the president.

”The stakes are very high” for labor in the 2024 election, Bauder said. “There’s still a lot of things we need to fix to make it a more equitable playing field.”

Biden based his 2020 reelection campaign in Philadelphia and spent a lot of time in the state, even as the coronavirus restricted campaign travel. His reelection campaign is expected to be headquartered in Wilmington but will no doubt again run directly through Pennsylvania. The state, which he won by 1.2% in 2020, will be critical again.

Biden so far has two announced primary opponents: former candidate and author Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., though neither is expected to mount a serious challenge. The DNC has already announced it won’t hold debates in the Democratic contest.

The Republican presidential primary field swelled this week, with former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie joining an already crowded field.

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