One day after announcing its endorsement of the Biden-Harris ticket in the 2024 Democratic primary, the AFT joined other unions June 17 at the Philadelphia Convention Center for the first rally of President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

“This week, for the first time I’m aware of, the AFL-CIO endorsed us early, and every union as well,” Biden said. “I told you when I ran for president, I’d have your back, and I have. And you’ve had my back as well.

“I’m more honored by your endorsement than you can imagine. Coming this early, it’s going to make a gigantic difference in this campaign. You know, there are a lot of politicians in this country who can’t say the word ‘union.’ … I’m proud to say the word. I’m proud to be the most pro-union president in American history.”

AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera, along with AFT President Randi Weingarten and HPAE President Debbie White, spent a few moments with Biden prior to him addressing the crowd.

“Meeting the president is always a moment you never forget, but when I shook hands with President Biden on Saturday, it was like reconnecting with a friend you haven’t seen for years,” Chiera recalled June 19. “He was a regular guy who asked about me and my issues. He offered words of encouragement and thanks for the service our members do every day.”

Chiera added, “You could tell he understood the responsibilities of educators go way beyond teaching. As an education community and as a labor community,  we have never had advocates like President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the White House. They are a team who stands with us and stands up for our values. They earned our respect, our activism and our vote.”

AFTNJ Treasurer Jennifer Higgins, who captained a van of AFT and HPAE members to and from the Philadelphia Convention Center, acknowledged that the Biden rally — hosted by the AFL-CIO — marked the first time the labor movement came out as early as it did in support of a presidential candidate.

“The rally’s focus was on rank-and-file members,” Higgins emphasized. “President Biden’s administration has been committed to lifting up working men and women. And as he said, we are ‘building from the bottom up and the middle out,’ and this is what the labor movement is all about.”

ABOVE: President Joe Biden speaks June 17 in Philadelphia.
BELOW (left to right): AFTNJ Treasurer Jennifer Higgins, AFT Local 1060 President Carol Toomey and HPAE member Bob Davis get into prime position inside the Philadelphia Convention Center on June 17.
(Photos by Chris M. Junior)

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