News & Commentary

March 21, 2024

Divya Nimmagadda

Divya Nimmagadda is a student at Harvard Law School.

The United Steelworkers Union (USW) has officially endorsed President Biden in his 2024 reelection bid. This endorsement comes on the heels of Biden’s vocal opposition to the sale of U.S. Steel, the nation’s second largest steel manufacturer, to Nippon Steel in Japan. In alignment with his larger effort to make American-based manufacturing central to his reelection platform – a concept he gave several nods to during the State of the Union address – Biden stated that “U.S. Steel has been an iconic American steel company for more than a century, and it is vital for it to remain an American steel company that is domestically owned and operated.” The USW represents 850,000 workers in metals, mining, rubber and rail among other industries, and had endorsed Biden in 2020 as well. The USW president, David McCall, remarked that Biden’s “vision and leadership” supported the members’ wishes for “retirement security, affordable health care and labor laws that support our ability to form unions and negotiate strong contracts.” President Biden, who has repeatedly referred to himself as the “most pro-union president in American history,” has also received support from other major unions including United Auto Workers, SEIU and the AFL-CIO, though he is still waiting on backing from the Teamsters after meeting with the union last week.  

The Senate voted to confirm Nicole Berner, a former labor lawyer, as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She was confirmed 50 – 47, receiving no Republican support. Berner has worked for the SEIU since 2006, and has a long stint serving as the union’s general counsel from 2017 to the present. In this position, she took a lead role in the union’s legal advocacy efforts on issues like the Fight for $15 campaign, protecting the Affordable Care Act, overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, and opposing the Trump administration’s efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Previous to her work at the SEIU, she was an attorney at Planned Parenthood where her caseload included increasing abortion access in New Mexico and Missouri and protecting medication abortion in Ohio. Berner will be the first labor lawyer and the first openly gay judge to serve on the Fourth Circuit appellate court. Many have hailed Berner’s past professional experiences, as she will be “one of a minuscule number of federal judges who practices employee-side labor law,” as providing a needed perspective on the judiciary. The Fourth Circuit, following Berner’s confirmation, has nine Democrat-appointed judges and six appointed by a Republican president. The Circuit hears cases from Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. 

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