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Teamsters' president accepts Trump’s invitation to speak at RNC
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Teamsters' president accepts Trump’s invitation to speak at RNC

Sean O'Brien, Teamsters union president, will be speaking at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee at the invitation of the Republican nominee. The invitation follows a slow but steady courtship between the two camps, which included the former president meeting with Teamster leaders at their D.C. headquarters in January. The union gave $45,000 each to both the Democrat and Republican conventions this year — the first time it's given to both in 24 years.

This is big news. While union rank and file came out for Trump in both 2016 and 2020, leadership has been slow to embrace the pro-tariff, global-trade skeptic at the head of the GOP. It was safe to assume a shift from decades of Democrat support would take a change in union leadership, but Democrats’ illegal immigration and green policies alike have placed organized labor in a bind.

Teamsters have historically been the most conservative American union. The mostly male, blue-collar union opposed the Kennedy’s Democrat dynasty, endorsed President Richard Nixon, and defected from President Jimmy Carter's re-elect to endorse Gov. Ronald Reagan's challenge in 1980.

Republican politics have largely been anti-union labor for decades, and this remains true in Washington despite the efforts of senators like J.D. Vance (Ohio) and Josh Hawley (Mo.). Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) even challenged O'Brien to a fight during a congressional hearing in November, following a back-and-forth on X.

While the Teamsters were unable to dissuade the Democrat Party from supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s, the GOP made little effort to gain the union's support until 2016, when Trump and other "Realignment" conservatives worked to shift Republican politics toward a more nationalist labor and industrial policy.

Though Teamster voters had already shifted Republican, potential union support could unlock millions in spending for Republicans (and drain it from Democrat coffers). The union has yet to endorse, and O’Brien has said that will come after the summer’s conventions.

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Christopher Bedford

Christopher Bedford

Christopher Bedford is the senior editor for politics and Washington correspondent for Blaze Media.
@CBedfordDC →