The president of the largest trade union of public employees Tuesday credited the labor movement for helping Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton win the Iowa caucus.
Clinton has managed to hold her lead throughout the election even when unions were still undecided. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) estimates she won 52 percent of unionized households Monday during the Iowa caucus. Her primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders managed to get 43 percent. Union President Lee Saunders praised the victory as a success for union mobilizing.
“Last night in Iowa, we saw proof of two things,” Saunders declared. “AFSCME’s boots on the ground make a difference for candidates who stand with working people, and Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to restore the middle class, fix our unbalanced economy, and ensure we strengthen unions to strengthen America.”
AFSCME estimates that 21 percent of caucus voters came from union households. Labor unions do wield a considerable amount of influence and their support is often a huge boost to political candidates. They have the ability to mobilize crowds in support or opposition of candidates and alongside corporations they are some of the most generous contributors during elections.
“Hundreds of AFSCME volunteers knocked on more than 8,000 doors, engaged in more than 11,000 one-on-one conversations with members, and put in more than 1,000 volunteer shifts for the campaign during,” Saunders continued. “This is just the beginning of a long campaign and we know that Secretary Clinton will continue to travel the nation, listening to workers and earning each vote.”
The Iowa caucus is an important election event because it is the first major electoral vote during the nominating process. The state holds 99 conventions for all voting precincts in the state. How a candidate does during the caucuses provides fairly reliable foresight into how they will do during the rest of the election.
“With her message of an economy that works for all, protecting and extending the promise of retirement security, and defending and expanding President Obama’s landmark health care legislation,” Saunders concluded. “Just as public service workers never quit making our communities safer, healthier and stronger, we will never quit working to elect a president who shares our passion for public service.”
The union decided to back Clinton Oct. 23 after first delaying its endorsement. Several large national unions opted to briefly withhold their endorsement while trying to decide between Clinton and Sanders. Vice President Joe Biden further complicated the indecision by also considering a run. National unions began to move in support of Clinton after Biden finally announced Oct. 21 that he would not be running.
Clinton won her biggest union endorsement Nov. 17 from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She has also been able to secure support from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the American Federation of Teachers and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
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