Trump has private huddle with Teamsters’ chief ahead of endorsement pitch

After huddling privately with former President Donald Trump, Teamsters President Sean O’Brien said late Wednesday that the Republican primary frontrunner will meet with union members at its headquarters later this month.

The union backed President Joe Biden in 2020 but is undertaking a more wide-ranging endorsement process this year.

“There are serious issues that need to [be] addressed to improve the lives of working people across the country, and the Teamsters Union is making sure our members’ voices are heard as we head into a critical election year,” O’Brien said in a message posted on social media along with a picture of him posing with Trump.

“We thank the former President for taking time during this private meeting to listen to the Teamsters’ top priorities.”

The Teamsters has opened its doors to presidential candidates across the political spectrum, including former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on the GOP side, Democratic primary challengers to President Joe Biden, and independents Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornell West.

A union spokesperson told POLITICO in late December that it had been in conversation with the former president about joining one of its events — which feature union leadership and rank-and-file members from a range of fields — but scheduling conflicts prevented Trump from appearing in the initial batch held earlier that month.

The Teamsters is one of several prominent unions that have yet to endorse Biden’s reelection, though the labor-friendly president enjoys strong support from national unions overall. The AFL-CIO, the country’s largest labor organization, in June extended its earliest-ever endorsement to the Biden-Harris ticket.

O’Brien has previously attended White House events with Biden, though he also publicly called for the president to stay out of labor negotiations the Teamsters were engaged in with UPS over the summer that, at the time, had the potential to put more than 300,000 workers on strike.

The two sides eventually came to terms on a five-year deal that was ratified in late August without a work stoppage.

However, the fiery union president has at times clashed with members of the Republican party, most notably Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), in multiple Senate HELP Committee hearings, over their opposition to organized labor.

Trump has made previous entreaties to rank-and-file union members, including autoworkers, though during his tenure his administration pushed an array of policies that curbed unions’ influence and has previously drawn few labor endorsements outside those representing law enforcement officers.

In its post on X, formerly Twitter, the Teamsters it would provide additional details about the meeting with Trump at a later date.

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