A major Nevada union has been distributing misleading flyers that state Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supports the $15 minimum wage, according to reports Saturday.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been one of the main advocates for the $15 minimum wage. Despite its support for the policy, the union decided to endorse Clinton, who argues the federal minimum wage should not exceed $12 an hour. SEIU Nevada left out her opposition to the national $15 minimum wage when it distributed flyers touting her support.
“Hillary Clinton will fight, deliver and win a better future for working families,” stated the flyer, first reported on by Politico. “Clinton has spoken out in support of the movement for $15 and a union.”
The flyer includes a number of select quotes showcasing how Clinton has been an advocate for the policy. It leaves out that she actually is opposed to the national minimum wage exceeding $12 an hour. She only supports states and cities going as high as $15 if they so choose. Her primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, however, has been vocally supportive of a $15 national minimum wage.
“Hillary Clinton was the first candidate who came and met with workers and said she supported our movement,” SEIU Nevada State Director Brian Shepherd told Politico. “The fight for $15 is about creating a movement of people to talk about the inequality in America. That’s been the focus of the fight for $15.”
Shepherd said the flyer was not intended to mislead members. The SEIU first decided Nov. 17 to endorse Clinton despite Sanders being much more aligned with the labor movement. He even introduced a bill in July that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The bill did not advance in the Republican-controlled legislature.
Sanders was able to get support among local unions early on but that momentum, didn’t last when national unions started making their endorsements. Union leaders feared he was not electable compared to Clinton. Some national unions even appeared to be waiting to see if Vice President Joe Biden would enter the race.
When Biden announced Oct. 21 that he would not be seeking the presidency, a wave of endorsements went to Clinton. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced its endorsement for Clinton within three days of Biden declaring he would not run.
Clinton 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 among other large unions. A recent campaign video showcased her appreciation for the support.
Nevertheless Sanders has still done well among the labor movement. He snagged his biggest union endorsement Dec. 17 from the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Larry Cohen, former union president, had already pledged in July his support for Sanders. Cohen is now leading the coalition Labor for Bernie which consists mostly of local unions that support Sanders.
Clinton and Sanders have fought for union support throughout much of the election. Unions possess a substantial amount of political influence and their endorsements can be a huge boost to campaigns. They are big political donors and have the ability to mobilize crowds and volunteers.
Clinton has good reason to be nervous about the $15 minimum wage despite growing support among Democrats. Those opposed have noted concern the policy could actually hurt the very people it meant to help. It could force low-wage workers out of the workforce by increasing cost of labor on businesses.
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