Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders won his biggest union endorsement thus far Thursday from the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
CWA is one of the most influential unions in the country at roughly 700,000 members. Unions don’t just have the ability to rally people behind a candidate, they are also major financial contributors. Sanders and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton have competed for union support throughout the election.
“CWA members have made a clear choice and a bold stand in endorsing Bernie Sanders for President,” CWA President Chris Shelton said in a statement. “I am proud of our democratic process, proud of CWA members, and proud to support the candidate whose vision for America puts working families first.”
The decision was made after nearly three months of meetings and an online vote by general membership. The union represents workers in telecommunications, media, health care, public service and manufacturing.
“Our politics and economy have favored Wall Street, the wealthy and powerful for too long,” Shelton continued. “CWA members, like voters across America, are saying we can no longer afford business as usual. Bernie has called for a political revolution – and that is just what Americans need today.”
Sanders was able to quickly garner a lot of support among local unions early on in his campaign. National union leaders, however, were much more hesitant, fearing he was not electable. At the same time, Clinton struggled to gain traction with the labor movement but has since picked up a lot of support among national unions. Her wave of endorsements began after Joe Biden announced Oct. 21 he would not be running.
Sanders has made issues important to the labor movement as central part of his campaign. In July, he introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
CWA is not the first major national union to throw its support behind Sanders. The United Electrical Workers and the National Nurses United also decided to support him. Local unions, though, have been where Sanders has picked up the most endorsements. Labor for Bernie consists mostly of local unions which argue the Vermont Democrat-socialist is the best choice for president.
Former CWA President Larry Cohen is helping to lead the coalition. Cohen, a long time and influential union leader, announced his support for Sanders in July.
The coalition includes local chapters of the American Federation of Teachers, American Postal Workers Union, Communications Workers of America, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Brotherhood Of Carpenters, AFL-CIO and Vermont State Labor Council.
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