The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced Tuesday that it has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, marking her biggest union endorsement to date.
The endorsement has been rumored for almost a week, and a source inside the union recently told Politico that leadership was prepared to back her. At 1.9 million members, the SEIU is one of the most powerful labor unions in the country. As a result, the endorsement is a huge victory for Hillary as she compete with her primary rival Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for union support.
“SEIU members and working families across America are part of a growing movement to build a better future for their families,” SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement. “Hillary Clinton will support and stand with them. This movement for economic, racial, immigrant and social justice is poised to turn out to vote in November with their families and communities and keep pushing elected officials to deliver once in office.”
Early on, it looked like Bernie was destined to win over the labor movement. He quickly gained support among many local unions at the start of his campaign, while Hillary struggled to gain momentum. The problem for unions was her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and her hesitance to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). At the same time, some national union leaders were hestitant to back Bernie out of fear he was not electable.
Hillary did eventually come out against TPP after the international trade deal was finalized. It was her support for unpopular policies, Bernie’s unpredictable surge in popularity, and Vice President Joe Biden’s potential as a wild-card candidate which prompted several national unions to delay endorsing anyone.
Nevertheless, Bernie has gained a lot of support. Labor for Bernie has held rallies across the country in support for the Vermont-democratic socialist. Though the coalition consists mostly of local unions, the American Postal Workers Union, the United Electrical Workers and the National Nurses United also joined in. Former Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen is helping to lead the group.
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