Much like President Joe Biden did two years ago, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman has picked up a major endorsement from a large state organized labor council with members who have backed some Republican policies.
According to his campaign, Fetterman has won the support of the Pennsylvania State Building & Construction Trades Council, which represents 196,000 workers and includes more than 115 locals from 15 International Building Trades unions.
Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, said in a statement released by his campaign to PennLive that he was “so grateful” for the endorsement.
“The union way of life is sacred, it’s what built this country, and it must not only be protected but expanded,” he said. “I will always fight for Pennsylvania’s workers.”
Fetterman said if elected to the Senate he would fight for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, trade deals that help American workers and expanding domestic manufacturing, themes he has touched on in TV ads.
“John’s tireless dedication to the building trades and to union workers allows our members to enjoy a middle-class living and to have healthcare and retirement benefits,” said Rob Bair, the president of the Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades, in the statement.
In the 2016 Senate primary, the Council endorsed Katie McGinty, the eventual nominee, over Fetterman and Joe Sestak, a race won by Republican Pat Toomey, whose seat Fetterman and Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz are seeking.
The state Council also includes the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, which earlier this year endorsed U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb in the Senate primary race.
Fetterman’s campaign said the new statewide endorsement shows a “pretty big consolidation” of organized labor behind the Democratic candidate.
Two years ago, the Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council endorsed then-nominee Joe Biden in the presidential race.
At the time, John Micek of Penn Capital-Star observed that the nod came even as many labor members gravitated toward then-President Donald Trump and Republican energy policies - issues that affected their livelihoods.
Micek wrote that the Council had supported GOP efforts to bar Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf from having Pennsylvania join a greenhouse gas reduction initiative that critics have claimed would hurt the energy industry.
Organized labor has also bristled at attempts to stifle fracking, the controversial drilling method used to extract natural gas from shale.
In January, Philadelphia trades council president Ryan Boyer told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Lamb’s support for fracking was a factor in him winning the primary endorsement.
“He understands that we work in the energy industry, that we want to protect the environment, but we also want to protect our jobs,” said Boyer.
Oz and Republicans have accused Fetterman of being anti-fracking based on a moratorium pledge Fetterman signed in 2016 and a Twitter post that same year.
WFMZ-TV in Allentown reported in August that Fetterman’s campaign said he does not support a ban and dropped his call for a moratorium after the state implemented stricter regulations on fracking later in 2016.
On his campaign website, Fetterman calls climate change an “existential threat” that needs to be addressed by transitioning to clean energy.
“But we must do it in a way that preserves the union way of life for the thousands of workers currently employed or supported by the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania and the communities where they live,” he said.
Meanwhile, Oz announced Wednesday that he had received the endorsement of the bipartisan Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association Political Action Committee.
“Dr. Oz has been a much-needed advocate for law enforcement, speaking out in support of all law enforcement officers and their families,” said Indiana County Sheriff Robert Fyock, chairman of the PAC, in a statement released by the Oz campaign.