“Vice President Biden has been a longtime friend of working families and the IBEW,” said the union’s International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “Joe has a long record of standing up for union members, and we believe it’s in the best interest of IBEW members to elect him our next president.”
The union decided to endorse Biden at its annual officers’ meeting Tuesday. The IBEW did not take sides this early in the Democratic nominating fight in 2016 or 2008, said Mark Brueggenjohann, a spokesman.
Stephenson cited Biden’s support for “a realistic plan to combat the ongoing threat of climate change without putting energy security or working families at risk.” For the union, that includes both investments in green energy and continued investment in oil and gas extraction, a major source of employment for the union’s members.
Unlike Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Biden opposes a ban on domestic fracking.
The union was one of several labor groups last year to raise concerns about the Green New Deal proposal by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), saying it was vague and not based on an “engineering-based approach.”
“We will not accept proposals that could cause immediate harm to millions of our members and their families,” the letter co-written by Stephenson said. “We will not stand by and allow threats to our members’ jobs and their families’ standard of living go unanswered.”
Biden was an early recipient of union backing this year, with the prominent support of the International Association of Fire Fighters, who have provided grass-roots support for him at rallies.
He also received the backing of other major industrial unions, including the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers and the Amalgamated Transit Union.
The first set of results from the Iowa caucuses Tuesday, with more than 60 percent of precincts reporting, showed Biden with 15.6 percent of state delegate equivalents in the state, compared with 26.9 for former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg; 25.1 percent for Sanders; and 18.3 percent for Warren.