National union leaders made the case Monday for why Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton is a better choice over Republican nominee Donald Trump.
National unions have overwhelmingly endorsed Clinton with many warning Trump would be disastrous for worker rights. The AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Education Association, AFSCME, among others within the labor movement voiced their support for her at the the Democratic National Convention.
“We need a president that wants to raise wages instead of one that thinks wages are too high and doesn’t even think there should be a federal minimum wage,” SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry told the crowd of party voters and delegates. “That’s why we’re supporting Hillary Clinton.”
Henry and her union have been vocal supporters of the $15 minimum wage. Clinton has been far less clear about her stance on the policy. She originally said the federal minimum wage should not exceed $12 an hour but supported states that choose to go higher. Clinton later said that she meant the $12 mark as a step towards eventually reaching $15 an hour.
“Hillary Clinton has answered the call,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the crowd. “She has protected worker rights and has stood up to Wall Street and will fight for equal pay for all.”
Trumka also called Trump a fraud for acting like he is a tough guy. Trump has risen in popularity among his followers for taking a tough stance against terrorists and illegal immigration. He is seen by many as a tough guy who speaks his mind even if its not politically correct.
“Donald, you’re no tough guy, you’re a phony,” Trumka continued. “Donald Trump isn’t the solution to the problem, he is the problem.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders has done a lot to advance union causes but was unable to win their support while running for the Democratic nomination. He introduced a bill in July 2015 designed to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and has opposed the the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which union leaders denounced as a harmful giveaway to corporations.
“She has been am unstoppable champion of working people.” AFSCME President Lee Saunders told the crowd. “How can you be pro-worker when your catchphrase is ‘you’re fired.'”
Clinton had an uneasy relationship with unions earlier in the election despite eventually winning their overall support. National unions were slow to endorse her while many local chapters gravitated towards Sanders. The labor movement seemed split between how electable Clinton appeared and Sanders being more aligned with union policies.
Some unions even seemed to wait to see is if Vice President Joe Biden would join the race. Biden eventually announced Oct. 21 he would not seek the presidency, resulting in a flood of national unions moving to back Clinton.
The AFL-CIO made its endorsement June 16 for Clinton roughly a week after she secured the nomination over Sanders.
Union leadership has noted concern their membership could end up supporting Trump over Clinton. The AFL-CIO has already been utilizing its substantial political influence and resources to oppose the Republican nominee. It has been mobilizing members and supporters on the grassroots level throughout the election.
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