Elections

Auto Workers Union Calls Members To ‘Unify’ Behind Hillary Clinton

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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The largest national union of automobile workers announced its endorsement of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Thursday.

The United Auto Workers leadership narrowed its choice down May 19 to Clinton and her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, after ruling out Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. The union still gave praise to Sanders for framing important issues, but decided Clinton is the best choice.

“The primary process is at a point where it is time to unify and choose between two very good UAW friends,” UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement. “Our UAW regions have gone through an extensive process of surveying our members. Each regional director took the time to listen to their membership and give input into the campaign season.”

Williams said Clinton is the candidate most likely to address the needs of union members and working families. Clinton has managed to garner vast support among national unions even though Sanders is much more aligned with the policies unions advocate. Sanders still gained support from many local unions.

The UAW listed raising incomes, restoring collective bargaining rights and retirement as key political issues. It also advocates for more investments in the manufacturing sector and a more fair trade system than the one currently pursued by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Sanders has done a lot to advance union causes, including introducing 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 opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which union leaders denounced as a harmful giveaway to corporations.

Clinton, in contrast, was hesitant to oppose TPP and has been unclear about her stance on the minimum wage. She originally said the federal minimum wage should not exceed $12 an hour but supported states that choose to go higher. Clinton then said during the Democratic debate Apr. 14 that she meant the $12 mark as a step towards eventually reaching $15 an hour.

Clinton struggled to gain support among the labor movement early on in the campaign. Her luck changed, however, not long after Vice President Joe Biden announced Oct. 21 he was not seeking the nomination. Sanders in contrast quickly gained support early on, but his momentum eventually slowed.

Clinton won her her biggest union endorsement Nov. 17 from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She has 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.

Sanders snagged his biggest union endorsement Dec. 17 from the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Larry Cohen, CWA’s former union president, pledged his support for Sanders last July. Cohen is now leading the coalition Labor for Bernie which consists mostly of local unions that support Sanders.

The Clinton and Sanders campaigns did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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