On Saturday, GOP frontrunner and businessman Donald Trump tweeted his thanks to the teamsters for building a movement in support of his campaign. Trump was referring to a number of Facebook pages, including "Teamsters for Trump" and "Teamsters United For Donald J. Trump," which have garnered a large following of thousands of members. So who are the teamsters backing Trump? The Teamsters Union, which was founded in 1903, is the strongest and one of the largest labor unions in North America. The union represents 1.4 million workers around the country in various occupations, and has 1,900 affiliate groups across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.
While the teamsters have generally backed Democratic candidates, some of them are supporting Trump this year. Antonio Caracciolo, creator of the Teamsters for Trump Facebook page, spoke to NPR about why the candidate has their support: "Because he's putting skin in the game, as the old saying is. He is writing the check. ... Well, he is — right now, he's paying the bills for himself. None of the other candidates can say that. Except close to him is Bernie Sanders. But Bernie's traction is losing."
According to Caracciolo, members of his union — Teamsters Local 282 in New York and Long Island — consist of about 4,800 people who mostly support Trump, but some also back Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. These decisions are mostly based on what both candidates have said about creating jobs and rebuilding the middle class.
Late last year, the Teamsters released a statement noting that they looked forward to meeting both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as well as Republican candidates, noting, "The Teamsters will work with and support any candidate who puts the needs of America’s working families above the deep pockets of their corporate donors."
And apparently, for some teamsters, that meant supporting Trump. Caracciolo said, "I’m active on the computer with a lot of things ... I [created the Facebook page] with some other Teamsters. We all like Trump." The Teamster explained that he and some others are backing Trump based on his views on trade and immigration. He said, "We need to stop the free trade because it’s hurting our country. Basically, this is why Trump is more appealing to me, close the borders ... work on the currency manipulation and the trade deficits."
Regardless of Trump's views on working families and job security for America's working class, The New York Times put it plain: "That a major union, in such a racially charged election, would seek to meet with Mr. Trump is striking."