Updated Feb 22, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Teamsters report first major GOP donation in years, surprising Republicans

Donald Trump walks in a building with a Teamsters sign on a wall behind him.

Former President Trump after meeting with leaders of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at their headquarters on Jan. 31. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

One of America's most powerful labor unions has reported its first major donation to Republicans in two decades after meeting with former President Trump last month, but the party has yet to receive the money, sparking confusion.

Why it matters: The Teamsters' $45,000 donation to the Republican National Committee's convention fund, per Federal Election Commission reports, comes as Trump and President Biden vie for blue collar support in key swing states ahead of this year's election.

  • The reported contribution is not an endorsement. But it's a powerful statement from a union that's supported every Democratic presidential nominee since Al Gore.
  • It represents the Teamsters' first big donation to the RNC since 2004, the Washington Post reports.

Yes, but: The party has neither received a check from the union nor heard anything about the contribution coming, a source familiar with the RNC told Axios.

  • In a statement Thursday, the Teamsters said the donation was "issued" last month, and "will be sent soon."
  • Asked why the Teamsters reported the donation to the FEC before sending the money, spokesperson Kara Deniz said the union has "a strict internal auditing and reporting process that is followed before any contributions are sent."
  • "Like so much in Washington, it takes time to go through the process," Deniz said.

The big picture: The union's PAC made the donation on Jan. 25, according to FEC data.

  • Earlier that month, Trump met with Teamsters president Sean O'Brien behind closed doors.
  • The former president also participated in a public roundtable meeting with the union on Jan. 31.
  • "We had a very strong meeting with the Teamsters," Trump reportedly said at the time, adding that he believes he has a "good shot" at notching the union's endorsement.

Between the lines: Biden, who has long promised to be "the most pro-union President" in U.S. history, has already scored the UAW's endorsement.

  • As both candidates prepare for a rematch of the 2020 presidential race, support from union members is likely to be vital in states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania that could decide the election.

Reality check: The Teamsters still overwhelmingly give to Democrats.

  • O'Brien has said the Biden administration has "been great for unions," per the Post.
  • The union's PAC sent a total of $135,000 to the DNC in December, including $45,000 for its convention fund.

The bottom line: Deniz said this year will mark the first time since 2000 that the union will participate in both parties' conventions.

  • "In the Teamsters, all our members' voices will be heard, regardless of party," she said.

Go deeper: Private sector unionization rates actually grew in 2023

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from a source saying the RNC has not received the donation, as well as a statement from the Teamsters. It has also been corrected to say the Teamsters PAC sent the DNC $135,000, not $30,000.

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