The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) announced Thursday it endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a major blow to rival Sen. Bernie Sanders.
AFGE is the largest federal workers union in the country with 670,000 members. Union leadership conducted a poll finding the vast majority of members support Clinton. The endorsement is the latest in a surge of union support going to Clinton over Sanders. AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. believes Clinton will help to strengthen the federal workforce.
“Secretary Clinton shares AFGE’s vision for a strong and vibrant government workforce that has the necessary tools and support needed to deliver vital programs and services to the American public,” Cox says in a statement. “The American people count on government employees to keep their streets safe, deliver their Social Security checks on time, and care for our nation’s heroes at veterans’ hospitals, and AFGE can count on Hillary Clinton to help us get it done.”
Clinton struggled early on to gain traction with the labor movement. She lost favor with many unionized workers for her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and her hesitance to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Unions, especially local, seemed more keen on Sanders, but that all changed when Biden announced Oct. 21 he would not be running. The move allowed Clinton to acquire major unions fearful that Sanders is not a viable candidate.
AFGE is not the biggest union to endorse Clinton, she won her biggest union endorsement Nov. 17 from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Unions are powerful political forces because of their ability to mobilize crowds and they also contribute heavily into political campaigns.
Sanders has still been able to gain a lot of union support. Labor for Sanders held rallies across the country in support of the Vermont-Democratic socialist. It includes several local chapters of the SEIU as well as other unions. The coalition has since condemned SEIU leadership for endorsing Clinton.
Though the coalition consists mostly of local unions, American Postal Workers Union, United Electrical Workers and National Nurses United also joined in. Former Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen is helping to lead the group.
Clinton was also able to secure support with The American Federation of Teachers back in July and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in August. Despite his own union’s hesitance toward Clinton, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent a memo to the leaders of associated unions in July telling them not to endorse Sanders.
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