A coalition of unions supporting Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders disputed claims by national union leaders Monday that the vast majority of union members support his rival former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton has been able to win overwhelming support among national unions, but for members its been far less clear. Close to two dozen national unions released a statement Monday claiming the vast majority of their members support Clinton. The union coalition Labor for Bernie argues the support is due more to undemocratic decision-making than what members actually think.
“While national unions have mostly endorsed the other candidate, Sanders’ supporters have often actively challenged their leaderships’ top-down, undemocratic decisions via social media and in the press,” Labor for Bernie volunteer Rand Wilson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Members have also successfully brought forward resolutions of support for Sanders — contradicting their national union’s position.”
Labor for Bernie consists mostly of local unions, but a few national organizations have also signed on. The coalition has managed to get 70 labor organizations to join. National leaders, however, note union members overwhelmingly support Clinton because of her progressive plans to create good jobs and support for workers rights.
“Secretary Clinton has proven herself as the fighter and champion working people and their families need in the White House to restore that opportunity,” the statement read. “That is why, of all unions endorsing a candidate in the Democratic primary, the vast majority of the membership in these unions has endorsed her.”
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Government Employees and the American Federation of Teachers were among the top unions which signed the statement. Nevertheless, Sanders has been much more aligned with the policies unions advocate for such as enacting a national $15 minimum wage.
Clinton in contrast has stated on numerous occasions the national minimum wage should not exceed $12 an hour. Clinton was also much more hesitant to oppose the Trans–Pacific Partnership (TPP) compared to Sanders. Labor unions have rallied against the massive trade deal out of concern it could allow corporations to outsource more jobs.
Sanders won local support early in his campaign but the momentum died when it came to national unions. Leadership expressed concern 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 but decided to back Clinton once it was confirmed he wouldn’t be.
He has closed in on Clinton and now trails by only a couple points in the polls. Quinnipiac University found in a recent poll that Clinton leads Sanders 44 to 42 percent. In the Nevada caucus entrance polls over the weekend Clinton held only a slight lead among union households, according to Fox News.
The main contacts for the national unions did not respond to a request for comment by TheDCNF.
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