Leadership within the autoworkers union told reporters Thursday that it will support whoever the Democratic presidential nominee is over Republican pick Donald Trump.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) has remained one of the few national unions to not endorse anyone for president. UAW President Dennis Williams said union leadership will support either Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders depending on who wins the nomination.
“The officers and I have had a lot of discussions about both Hillary and Bernie because both of them bring a lot to the table,” Williams said. “We are certainly focused on Hillary Clinton as well as Bernie Sanders and we decided some time ago to let the process continue for us because we thought the dialogue was good. It brought out things that were very important to our union.”
Williams adds that while Clinton is the likely nominee, Sanders has still made issues important to unions a critical part of the election. Sanders has campaigned on issues like worker rights, the minimum wage, free college education and free healthcare. The UAW has withheld its endorsement alongside a few other major unions like the AFL-CIO.
National unions, for the most part, have overwhelmingly endorsed Clinton but Sanders has still done considerably well among local chapters. Sanders gained momentum earlier on but that all changed when it came time for national unions to make their endorsement. Several even delayed endorsing anyone with membership conflicted between Clinton and Sanders.
Some unions even appeared to be waiting to see if Vice President Joe Biden would enter the race. Biden eventually announced Oct. 21 he would not be seeking the presidency. Not long after, a horde of national unions began flocking to support Clinton. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced its endorsement just three days after.
Labor unions possess a substantial amount of political influence and their endorsements can be a huge boost to campaigns. They aren’t just big political donors, they also have the ability to mobilize crowds and volunteers. Sanders was much more aligned with the labor movement but Clinton appeared more electable.
Clinton won her 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.
Sanders 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.
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