Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders won support from a prominent transit union Monday over primary rival former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) represents 190,000 transportation workers and mechanics throughout the country. It decided to back Sanders despite many other national labor unions choosing to back Clinton. ATU International President Larry Hanley noted it is Sanders’s strong support of working Americans that won him the endorsement.
“His unabashed support of civil rights, public services, free tuition at public colleges, increases in Social Security and the minimum wage, make him an ideal candidate,” Hanley said in a statement. “But the Labor Movement owes Senator Sanders so much for his consistent opposition to right wing programs and his championing of first-rate healthcare for all.”
Sanders has done a lot to advance union causes. He introduced a bill in July designed to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and has advocated for mandatory union dues. Sanders was also adamantly against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Clinton hesitantly opposed.
“We reject the idea that these vital programs are unattainable and resent the notion that we as a country can afford unlimited and unquestioned expenses for war,” Hanley continued. “The attempt to belittle what so many of us believe in and what Senator Sanders has brought to the national stage is antithetical to the progressive history of the Democratic Party.”
Sanders has fought for union support against Clinton throughout the election. He won support early on among local unions, but Clinton has dominated the labor movement with national support. While Sanders has been much more aligned with the labor movement, some union leaders have expressed doubt on whether he is electable.
Sanders won his biggest union endorsement Dec. 17 from the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The United Electrical Workers and the National Nurses United also decided to support him. Former CWA President Larry Cohen is now leading the coalition Labor for Bernie, which consists mostly of local unions across the country that support Sanders.
Nevertheless, Clinton has been a favorite among national union leaders. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced its endorsement of Clinton within days of Vice President Joe Biden declaring he would not run. Clinton won her biggest union endorsement Nov. 17 from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
The former secretary of state also secured support from the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the American Federation of Teachers and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and others. The AFL-CIO is one of the few remaining major unions still trying to decide who to endorse.
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