News & Politics

Tea Party Darling "Joe the Plumber" Joins a Labor Union

Samuel Wurzelbacher announced that he had obtained a job at Chrysler.

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber) campaigns for John McCain in 2008.
Photo Credit: Rona Proudfoot/Wikimedia Commons

“Joe the Plumber” is now a union man.  Samuel Wurzelbacher--”Joe the Plumber’s” real name--announced Sunday that he had obtained a job at Chrysler, a union shop.

Wurzelbacher became a national celebrity in 2008 after confronting then-candidate Barack Obama on his plans to raise taxes on those making $250,000 a year.  Obama’s comment that he wanted to “spread the wealth around” turned into a Republican attack line.

Wurzelbacher has right-wing views--he once said the U.S. “needs a white Republican president again.”  In 2012, he ran as the Republican candidate against Democratic Representative Marcy Kaptur, though he lost. In recent years, he has also been employed as a conservative commentator and motivational spaker. But in a blog post highlighted by the Toledo Blade, Wurzelbacher explained his union membership.

“In order to work for Chrysler, you are required to join the Union, in this case UAW. There’s no choice – it’s a union shop – the employees voted to have it that way and in America that’s the way it is,” “Joe the Plumber” wrote.  He added that there’s a “there’s a big difference between private unions and pubic (sic) unions," and that he opposes public unions. But what “Joe the Plumber” didn’t mention was that Chrysler was one of the automakers bailed out by the government in 2009.

Wurzelbacher has caught some heat at his job.  He explained that he was confronted by a man who called him a “teabagger.”


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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