Biden Falsely Claims He Repealed Delaware’s “Right-to-Work” Law in the 1970s (Repeal Occurred in 1949)

Yesterday, President Biden falsely claimed in a high-profile AFL-CIO that he worked to repeal "right-to-work" in Delaware in the 1970s, but the law was repealed in 1949 when he was 7. (AFL-CIO)

Folks, 

Greetings from the Burgh, where I stayed up through the night to write a special newsletter. 

In 2019, Payday Report was there when Biden launched his bid for the Democratic nomination for President at the old Teamsters temple in Pittsburgh. Yesterday, Biden returned to a “House of Labor” in an attempt to save his nomination as the Democrat’s candidate for President. 

While Biden impressed many labor leaders, he falsely claimed that he worked to repeal “right-to-work” in Delaware as a young 30-year-old Senator in the 1970s.

Contrary to Biden’s claim, the anti-union law was actually repealed in Delaware in 1949, when Biden was only seven years old. 

Our newsletter has more on Biden’s big day with labor, Congresswoman Summer Lee backing Kamala Harris, and talk of Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro being Biden’s VP. 

Biden Falsely Claims He Repealed “Right-to-Work” in Delaware in 1970s in High Profile AFL-CIO Speech. 

Yesterday morning did not begin on a positive note for Joe Biden. He woke up to a blistering New York Times op-ed from George Clooney, a prolific Democratic fundraiser who organized a massive fundraiser for Biden just three weeks ago.

Clooney, the 63-year-old beloved actor and activist, recounted details of his interactions as he watched Biden age over the years. 

“It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fundraiser was not the Joe’ big F-ing deal‘ Biden of 2010,” wrote Clooney. “He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate”. 

Around the same time as Clooney’s devastating op-ed hit, legendary long-time Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, 84, was throwing down to Biden on the MSNBC Show “Morning Joe.” 

“It’s up to the President to decide if he will run. We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short,” the somber-faced Speaker Emerita remarked. 

Given that Pelosi herself was 84 years old, her words carried weight on Biden.

In 2023, after much debate within the Democratic Party, Pelosi decided to step down as the Democratic leader and step into a less strenuous and more ceremonial role as Speaker Emerita. Now, she is warning that it is perhaps time for Biden to step back from a Democratic leadership role as Pelosi had in her 80’s. 

On live TV, Pelosi warned that Biden needed to make a decision, and she was trying to encourage naysayers to hold their tongue so the process could be managed. 

“I’ve said to everyone — let’s just hold off whatever you’re thinking,” said Pelosi. “Either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week.” 

Biden Calls AFL-CIO to Save Nomination

Immediately after Pelosi’s announcement, the televisions in the lobby of the AFL-CIO began blaring, and other Senate and House Democrats went on TV to ask Biden to reconsider remaining the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. 

In the ornate George Meany Conference Room, which has a window facing the White House just across Lafayette Park, union staffers and presidential advance team members were setting up for Biden’s make-or-break televised speech in front of the AFL-CIO’s Executive Committee. 

Throughout his 4 years, Biden often visited the AFL-CIO, a short block from the White House. His speech at the AFL-CIO was as crucial as the one that he gave yesterday. 

Arriving in the executive council room of the AFL-CIO, Biden was showered with hugs, back slaps, and messages from labor leaders telling him to keep up on pushing in the presidential race.

“We just wanna say Mr. President, you support unions, you support working families, you have always had our back,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler as she paused to cry. “We have yours”. 

Biden then embraced a crying Shuler as the room full of nearly 100 top union activists shouted their support for Biden. 

Noting to the labor leaders that he was taking a break from a historic meeting with 30 heads of state gathered for NATO’s 75th anniversary at their DC conference, Biden made a witty quip calling the AFL-CIO his “Other NATO.” 

“We have two strong organizations in America that I look to for our security – one literally and I mean this sincerely is NATO,” said Biden. “And I think of you as my domestic NATO – not a joke – not a joke,” the President emphasized to a flattered room of labor leaders. 

“You’re the one beyond me,” said Biden as he began to mumble and stutter. “You know that better than I do. Beyond me, it’s all about whether or not we are going to grow the economy. Whether or not we are going to give working people a shot,” said Biden. 

Speaking yesterday to the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council, Biden nostalgically recalled getting involved with labor in Delaware as a young senator. 

“When I was a kid back running for Senate when I was 29 years old [in 1972], labor elected me and we were then a ‘right-to-work’ state and we changed it all,” said Biden. 

However, Biden could not have been involved in repealing Delaware’s “right-to-work” law in the 1970s. The anti-union law was repealed in 1949, when Biden was only seven years old and living in Scranton, Pennsylvania. 

It is not the first time that Biden has made false claims about activism. For decades, Biden claimed falsely that he had been arrested while protesting for civil rights in the 1960s. Biden has also claimed falsely that he was arrested while trying to visit Mandela in South Africa.

Unlike these previous claim, which seemed easy to cover up, it would have been impossible for the seven-year-old Scranton native to be involved in the 1949 repeal of “right-to-work in Delaware. 

Whether Biden misspoke or made false claims about his involvement in Delaware’s “right-to-work” repeal is unclear. The Biden Campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

However, none of the labor leaders questioned Biden’s claim that he helped repeal Delaware’s “right-to-work” law. 

Instead, most labor leaders were impressed by the elder’s statements. Few of them had personally interacted with Biden in recent months and found him far more lively and energetic, although stumbling at times than depicted on TV. 

AFL-CIO Unanimously Backs Biden to Stay in Race Despite Closed Door Dissent

Later in the day, behind closed doors with the President’s team, AFL-CIO’s Executive Committee members expressed reservations about Biden’s condition. 

However, whatever criticism they stated behind closed doors stayed there as the AFL-CIO Executive Council voted unanimously to make another statement reaffirming their support for Biden. 

“We shared stories of the hopes of working people and discussed with the President the importance of unions mobilizing for Election Day,” said the AFL-CIO in a statement. “The President’s fighting spirit was on full display, and he reiterated his deep commitment to workers and our families and to taking on corporate greed. He was that “Scranton Joe” that we all know and love.” 

Biden had won labor’s support, and labor leaders, who had spent years desperate for someone like Biden, were excited to once again have his back. 

“The labor movement understands, as Joe Biden does, that solidarity is how we win. The message from today’s meeting couldn’t have been clearer: right now, it’s time to come together around a vision of a country,” said the AFL-CIO Executive Committee on Wednesday. “The labor movement is united behind President Biden and Vice President Harris. We urge his party and the American people to join us”. 

For more, read “Why are Democrats Sticking with Biden? Ask the Unions” by ace labor reporter Lauren Kaori Gurley of the Washington Post.

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Summer Lee Says Kamala Harris Likely to Be Presidential Nominee if Biden Withdraws

Earlier this week, a photo of Pittsburgh Congresswoman Summer Lee leaving a heated meeting of Congressional Democrats on Tuesday went viral. She was pictured flipping the peace sign as she refused to comment on whether Biden should stay in the race. 

A few days prior, founding members of The Squad, including Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Presley, went public with their support for Biden. 

Ocasio-Cortez upset many who wanted to replace Biden by telling activists in a viral video on Capitol Hill to simply move on from wanting a different presidential nominee. 

“The matter is closed. He had reiterated that this morning. He has reiterated that to the public. Joe Biden is our nominee. He is not leaving this race,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “He is in this race, and I support him.” 

Congresswoman Summer Lee, one of 9 members of The Squad, did not close discussion on the matter of replacing Biden. Like Vice President Kamala Harris, Lee attended Howard University and enjoyed a warm relationship with the Vice President, who has attended events with Lee in Pittsburgh. 

Late last week, Pittsburgh Congresswoman Summer Lee told Sirius XM’s “Mornings with Zerlina,” hosted by veteran MSBSC reporter Zerlina Maxwell, that she favored Kamala being the nominee if Biden decided not to run. 

“If our President decides that this is not the pathway forward for him, then it means that we are going to have to move very quickly. There is not going to be time for a primary,” she said. “[T]he Vice President is the obvious choice because she’s sitting right there as somebody who has been in the White House, as somebody who already has the name recognition, who’s already out on the trail.”

(Full Disclosure: I went to a historic mixed-race high school with Congresswoman Lee in the early 2000s.)

Lee remarked that she felt Biden needed to do a lot to prove himself as a nominee. 

“I don’t think that that reassurance is a speech,” Lee told Maxwell. “I don’t think it’s a rally. I think that reassurance is a continuous presence, it’s a continuous indication that we all understand what’s at stake and why you feel that way. I think that we can’t afford to gaslight folks.”

PA Governor Josh Shapiro Rumored as Top Vice Presidential Pick

Lee also has close ties with Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, who has questioned Biden’s debate performance. As the Governor of the country’s largest swing state, Shapiro is rumored to be a potential Vice Presidential replacement if Harris were the nominee. 

Biden currently trails in Pennsylvania, but the 51-year-old Shapiro recently won the Governor’s race just two years ago by a margin of 56%-41%. He also won two previously close elections as Attorney General. 

As Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Shapiro won wide acclaim when he sued the massive hospital chain University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the largest employer in PA, for UPMC refusing to take insurance from a rival hospital chain, Allegheny Health Network (AHN). Over 1 million AHN-insured folks in PA, including myself, were now able to access the state’s largest hospital system, UPMC. 

Unions widely praised Shapiro, a frequent guest on picket lines, and won praise for aggressively taking legal action against employers on behalf of unions as the state’s Attorney General. 

A self-described progressive Jew from the Philly suburb of Montgomery County, he was first elected to the PA State House in 2004 as a 25-year-old. He was then elected as the first Democrat to ever be elected as commissioner of Montgomery County, the second richest county in Pennsylvania. 

Over two decades, Shapiro worked successfully to turn the Philly suburbs from staunch Republican to heavily Democrat baston, whose votes have compensated for the turn to the Republican party in deindustrialized Western PA. 

(Check out this great 2022 The Lever profile by David Sirota, who described Josh Shapiro as the “Ted Lasso” of US Politics)

However, while Shapiro has made a name as a civil rights activist, he is also an ardent Zionist; Shapiro has offended many Palestinians with his racist comments, comparing them to the KKK. 

“We have to query whether or not we would tolerate this if this were people dressed up in KKK outfits or KKK regalia making comments about people who are African American in our communities,” Shapiro told CNN in April as pro-Palestinian protests rocked college campuses.

For more on his Zionist views on Israel as well as other Vice Presidential Candidates, check out Al-Jazeera.

All right, folks, that’s all for today. We will have more tomorrow. Keep sending story ideas, tips, comments, and complaints to [email protected] 

Donate to help us cover labor’s fight for 2024, especially here in Western PA. (This election season, a grant from Illumine Service Foundation matches all donations up to $20,000.) 

Thanks again for all the support – we will return in a few hours. 

Love & Solidarity,

Melk 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]