Petition Urges AFL-CIO Union To Endorse Sanders

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An online petition urging leadership within the AFL-CIO to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders reached its signature goal Friday after being up for less than a day.

The AFL-CIO is one of the few remaining major unions to not endorse a presidential candidate. National unions have gravitated towards Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, while a growing coalition of local chapters are throwing their hat in the ring for Sanders. Supporters of the Vermont senator are hoping to influence leadership within the AFL-CIO to endorse him.

“The AFL-CIO has yet to make an official endorsement announcement,” the petition noted. “But the rumor is that they will late February.”

The petition was able to reach its goal of 1,500 signatures in less than a day. The goal has since been pushed up by an additional thousand signatures as of Friday morning. The online form asks that only members of affiliated unions sign. The AFL-CIO executive council is responsible for endorsing a candidate, while the union political committee submits recommendations. Other unions typically decide through an internal election process.

“This petition is to show them that as Union Members we want the strongest candidate,” the form noted. “This petition will be mailed to each Union’s AFL-CIO Representative.”

Local union chapters were first to support Sanders, while national union leaders were much more hesitant, believing he was not electable. The coalition Labor for Bernie consists mostly of local unions that argue the Vermont Democrat-socialist is the best choice for president.

Former Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen is helping lead the coalition. Cohen, a longtime and influential union leader, announced his support for Sanders in July. The United Electrical Workers and the National Nurses United also decided to support him.

Sanders looked destined to win the labor movement with his earlier wave of support. Clinton lost favor with many unionized workers for her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline and her hesitance to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent a memo to the leaders of associated unions in July telling them not to endorse Sanders. Trumka has also been critical of Clinton for her policy stances.

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