The head of the Philadelphia chapter of the AFL-CIO is not happy that former Vice President Joe Biden hasn't committed to attending a "Workers Presidential Summit" that other Democratic White House hopefuls are expected to join.
"He always calls himself a Pennsylvanian at heart. His headquarters are here in Philadelphia. But his folks haven't found the importance of coming together and talking to our workers. And so that's very disappointing," AFL-CIO Philadelphia Council President Pat Eiding said in an NPR interview published on Friday.
"There's got to be some respect for the working people, if they want their vote," he added.
The Biden campaign hasn’t officially said if the former vice president is or isn’t attending the Sept. 17 event. The campaign usually releases Biden’s upcoming public schedule about a week in advance.
For years, Biden has highlighted his working-class upbringing as a child in Scranton, Pa., and was known during his three-plus decades in the Senate representing his home state of Delaware as the Keystone State’s third senator. As Eiding noted, his campaign HQ is in Philadelphia.
Biden has also long emphasized his close ties with organized labor. And to date, he’s the only Democratic presidential contender to win the backing of a major national union — the International Association of Fire Fighters endorsed the former vice president shortly after he declared his candidacy in late April.
Biden held the first rally of his 2020 White House campaign at a union hall in Pittsburgh, where he gave shout-outs to organized labor leaders attending the event and discussed labor policy such as "non-compete clauses" and "overtime rules" in detail.
Pennsylvania is an important battleground state, and then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s victory in the state in the 2016 election was crucial to his winning the White House. The 150,000-member AFL-CIO branch in Philadelphia is a major player in a state where unions make up roughly 12 percent of the workforce.
The chapter’s leadership has been annoyed with Biden since the opening hours of his campaign, when the former vice president traveled to Philadelphia for a high-dollar campaign fundraiser organized by senior Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen.
"Our good friend Joe Biden, from down the road a bit, he makes his announcement in Philadelphia," Eiding told NPR. "First place he goes is [the home of] the head of Comcast. No connection with labor. And they go forward. And it was a little disturbing because I thought, 'Well, here we go again.'"
The ”here we go again” comment referred to the perception by some union leaders that 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton took organized labor for granted.
Fox News reached out to Eiding but had yet to hear back at the time this article was published.
Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement that “Vice President Biden is as proud to call Patrick Eiding a friend as his campaign is to call Philadelphia home.”
“Joe Biden has fought for working people his entire life, and as he said at his official campaign launch in Philadelphia, as president he would strive every day to build 'an economy that rewards work, not just wealth,'" he added.
Biden has addressed numerous union confabs since jumping into the race, most recently the Iowa Federation of Labor candidate forum earlier this month. And he met with top organized labor leaders in New Hampshire last Friday.