A top official at one of Pennsylvania's most powerful labor groups slammed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for falsely boasting of the union's endorsement.
Shawn Steffee, a trustee with Boilermakers Local 154, said that his members were shocked to hear the Democratic nominee claim their support on national television. While Biden claimed to have "sat down" with union leaders to have an in-depth discussion about his plans, Steffee said the Biden campaign never approached his membership. Biden's criticism to fracking led Local 154—the largest local chapter of boilermakers in the country—to endorse President Trump.
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"We had a moment of disbelief when our members started blowing our phone up because they said we flip-flopped on our endorsement," Steffee told the Washington Free Beacon. "Nobody from his staff—nobody—has ever spoken with us, so I don't know where he's coming up with that."
When ABC town hall moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up that some Boilermaker Union members do not trust Biden's claim that he supports the fracking industry, the Democrat responded that the "Boilermaker Union overwhelmingly endorsed me." The union's national headquarters has not endorsed any candidates in the 2020 race, while Local 154 endorsed Trump in September.
Biden has consistently equivocated on the issue of fracking. When asked whether fracking and other fossil fuel industries will have a place in the Biden administration, the former vice president said he "would make sure it's eliminated" and opposed subsidies for the industry. The nominee has since adjusted his position to only oppose new fracking licenses on federal land. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, also said, "there's no question I'm in favor of banning fracking" before she joined Biden's ticket. The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Steffee said that Biden's equivocation on fracking pushed the union, which represents the Pittsburgh area, to support Trump.
"[Biden] said I will do away with fracking, then it was just fracking on federal land, so I don't know what his story is," he said. "But I do know President Donald Trump has embraced our energy independence and wants to grow the infrastructure on energy—and the Boilermakers absolutely want to be a part of it."
Fracking has emerged to be a key campaign issue in battleground states that rely on the shale industry. Michigan and Ohio together have more than 400,000 workers in the shale industry, while Pennsylvania alone has 320,000 workers. Trump has leaned into his consistent support for the fracking and natural gas industry during the campaign season, repeatedly saying that Biden wants to ban fracking.
The national headquarters of the Boilermakers Union did not respond to a request for comment.