Democratic presidential hopeful and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders got a huge union endorsement Monday with National Nurses United (NNU) announcing its support for his run.
With the labor movement already considering Sanders, the news comes as his rival Hillary Clinton struggles to gain union support. This despite the fact she is the frontrunner for the Democratic primary. NNU is the largest union of nurses in the country.
“We assumed because we are a woman’s organization a lot of the nurses would find Hillary Clinton far more resonant because she would break the glass ceiling,” NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro told The Associated Press. “They were far more concerned about breaking Wall Street’s stranglehold on our economy than the glass ceiling.”
Though major unions have been hesitant to officially endorse him, local unions have been much more willing to announce their support. Despite being more aligned on issues, some union leaders fear Sanders may not be electable. The problem is one of the primary reasons Hillary is still in the running for union support.
“Personally, I love Bernie,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told MSNBC last month. “But what we need is we need to win.”
Last month, former Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen became one of the first major union leaders to endorse Sanders. Cohen even said he plans to volunteer for his campaign.
Throughout his career and presidential campaign, Sanders has made labor issues a primary focus. In July Sanders introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and he is opposed to the sharing economy. It was his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), however, that allowed him to gain the most ground against Hillary.
From rallies to extensive media campaigns, unions have helped make TPP an important campaign issue. Hillary, though, has been reluctant to take a firm stance against the deal.
The AFL-CIO did get a chance to grill Hillary on her position. The union hosted a meeting between July 29-30 in Maryland as part of an ongoing effort by unions to determine what candidate to endorse. Both Sanders and Hillary along with other major Democratic candidates attended the meeting. Mike Huckabee was the only Republican candidate to attend the meeting.
The private meeting was important for several reasons. Unions wield considerable political influence and contribute significantly to those candidates they support.
Despite his own union’s hesitance toward Hillary, last month AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent a memo to the leaders of associated unions telling them not to endorse Sanders.
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