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Buttigieg brings Biden’s re-election message to union members in York

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks at the conference.
Ben Wasserstein
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks at the conference.

Jeff Chambers could be considered a man of many talents.

Since his teens, he has worked in manufacturing, helped build things like the B-1 Bombers and spent 30 years at Harley-Davidson.

A York City native, he joined his first union when he was around 19 years old and has been involved with several unions for over four decades.

He retired in 2020 and is a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 175.

“Union benefits and wages really paved the way for a comfortable retirement for me,” he said.

Chambers was an attendant to the 78th Annual Convention of the Pennsylvania State Council of Machinists Wednesday in York.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg was the featured speaker and lambasted former President Donald Trump over his inconsistency in getting things done for the American people.

“This is not a guy who generally keeps his promises,” he said. “He didn’t keep his promise to drain the swamp. He didn’t keep his promise about 6% economic growth. He didn’t keep his promise to build the wall.”

Buttigieg called President Joe Biden the “most pro-worker, pro-union President in modern times.”

Biden became the first sitting President to join a picket line when he walked with striking United Auto Workers last September.

One of the first things Biden accomplished after taking office was signing the bipartisan infrastructure law, which earmarks $550 billion toward improving things like roads, highways and bridges from 2022 to 2026.

Chambers said since Biden became president, he has noticed a multitude of new projects.

“I see a lot more road repair going on and right now in the city (York), we have a lot of gas lines being replaced, water lines being replaced,” he said. “All that stuff will just make this economy way stronger in the future.”

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Tim Buck with the IAMAW Local 1968 shared Chambers’ sentiment about the former president and current presumptive GOP nominee for the office.

“He didn’t get nothing done,” he said. “All he did was take care of his cronies. That’s all he did. And think about it. How many people did he fire? They were the best thing since a slice of bread. And all of a sudden, they didn’t do what he wanted. They were gone.”

Buck spent 18 years as a machinist and is now the Lawrence County Democratic Chairman.

He expressed concern over Trump’s re-election as infrastructure booms and unemployment rates drop.

“Labor’s moving, jobs are moving, infrastructure,” he said. “I come across that Turnpike; look at the cranes out there. I go up to Erie; everything is being worked on somewhere. We’re in a good mode right now.”

Though unemployment rates met an unprecedented spike during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been dropping ever since.

Chambers said he is worried about Trump being elected and potentially reshaping the American government.

“He’ll just tear down every damn thing this government’s about,” he said. “I mean he’s shot down our election. Nobody trusts elections anymore. And now he’s going to do the same thing with the judicial system, you know?”

Trump was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election.

But, the former president and many members of the Republican Party are claiming — without evidence — the justice system was weaponized.

Chambers said he was concerned Trump would actually use his position to punish political rivals.

“I haven’t heard a damn thing from Joe Biden, but I sure heard a hell of a lot from Trump talking about the people he’s going to go after once he gets elected,” he said. “So, he’s basically a hypocrite, a damn hypocrite if you ask me.”

Trump has also been trying to wrangle support from unions — including meeting with Teamsters in January.

The Pennsylvania GOP and Donald Trump’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment.