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Democratic Party Blocks Pro-Bernie Labor Leader

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders confirmed Wednesday that party leadership vetoed his decision to nominate a union ally to help draft the party platform.

Sanders was given the opportunity to nominate five of the 15 people to be tasked with drafting the party platform. He nominated the executive director of the National Nurses United (NNU), but his pick was promptly blocked. The union has been an adamant supporter of Sanders throughout much of the election.

“What we heard from the DNC was that they did not want representatives of labor unions on the platform-drafting committee,” Sanders told The Washington Post. “That’s correct.”

NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro believes the block was to make Sanders look bad and force him to select from a narrow pool of nominees. DNC Spokeswoman Dana Vickers said union leadership was already represented elsewhere, so it was not necessary for any of them to sit on the drafting committee.

At 185,000 members, NNU has remained one of the biggest unions to endorse Sanders. It announced plans to wield its political influence during the party convention in the hopes of helping Sanders win the nomination. The convention will be held in Philadelphia between July 25 and 28.

Sanders is an entire 838 delegated away from winning the nominations, while his primary rival Hillary Clinton only needs 71 more. Sanders has lagged behind Clinton throughout the election when it comes to delegate and union support. The NNU has 150 members planning to attend the convention as delegates in support of Sanders.

Sanders has done a lot to advance union causes but has struggled to gain support from national labor leaders. 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 opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which union leaders have denounced as a corporate giveaway.

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 which choose to go higher. Clinton then said during the Democratic debate Apr. 14 that she meant the $12 mark was meant to as a step towards eventually reaching $15 an hour.

Sanders has still won support from some national unions besides NNU. He won his biggest union endorsement Dec. 17 from the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Former CWA President Larry Cohen is now leading the coalition Labor for Bernie, which consists mostly of local unions that support Sanders.

The DNC did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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