Politics

Unions Might Not Endorse Democratic Primary Candidates After Getting Thumped In 2016

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter

Labor union leaders are hesitant to wade into the 2020 Democratic primary after early endorsements for Hillary Clinton in 2016 made a rift between leadership and many members, the Los Angeles Times reports.

During the 2016 presidential race, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was arguably the most pro-union candidate. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton picked up many high-profile endorsements from national unions, however, such as the American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

“Some of the unions will probably be changing their mind this time and going about it a whole different way, because quite frankly, it backfired on them,” Communication Workers of America (CWA) President Christopher Shelton told the LA Times. (RELATED: Democrats Make Millions More Off Federal Unions, Bureaucrats Than Republicans)

CWA escaped much of the blowback that hit unions such as the SEIU because CWA allowed its members to vote on which candidate to endorse. Sanders won. The SEIU leadership endorsed Clinton during the primary with no input from thousands of its members.

Unions are finding alternate ways to pick a candidate to endorse in the 2020 election or getting out of primary endorsements altogether.

“There are just too many people running,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry told the LA Times. “We will probably just wait until the primaries are over … I think a lot of unions are going to stay out of the primaries.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses Service Employees Union members at the union's 2016 International Convention in Detroit, Michigan, May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses Service Employees Union members at the union’s 2016 International Convention in Detroit, Michigan, May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Union members supported President Donald Trump at a historically high rate for a Republican candidate, losing the union household vote by a margin of 8 points, the best margin for a Republican since former President Ronald Reagan’s reelection in 1984, The Washington Post reports.

Any union endorsements of Trump remain unlikely. The majority of union members support Democratic candidates and union organizations donate overwhelmingly to Democrats and left-leaning causes.

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