By Joel Wendland
Today the 160,000-member International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) announced its endorsement of Senator Hillary Clinton for president.
This endorsement follows last week's endorsement by the Theatrical Stage Employees union (IATSE).
In all, Sen. Clinton has won endorsements from 12 international unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO. These include: AFSCME (1.4 million public employees), AFT (1.4 million teachers), Amalgamated Transit Union (180,000 members), the Bricklayers (100,000 members), National Association of Letter Carriers (300,000 members), International Association of Machinists (700,000 members), Office and Professional Employees (125,000 members), Sheet Metal Workers, Transportation Communications International Union, and the United Transportation Union. (Sheet Metal Workers and UTU are set to combine in Jan. 2008 and will have a membership of 230,000.)
Side note: The Machinists also endorsed Mike Huckabee (yuck) for the Republican nomination.
Sen. Barack Obama so far has not been endorsed by any internationals, though his list of locals and state chapter supporters is very long, among them some large Service Employees International Union state chapters. SEIU has decided to endorse candidates by state rather than making a single endorsement during the primaries. Other Change to Win unions like UNITE HERE have made no endorsements yet.
John Edwards has been endorsed by the United Mine Workers of America (105,000 members), Transport Workers (200,000 members), and United Steelworkers (1.2 million members), and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (700,000 members--non-AFL-CIO affiliated).
Most of the endorsements for all the candidates resulted from union-wide membership surveys. Though, Sen. Clinton's relationship with labor (including her relationship by association during her husband's administration) gives her a distinct advantage over the other leading Democratic candidates in terms of winning labor's support.
Labor's support is crucial. As one of the core forces of the working class, its opinions should not be dismissed lightly. In 2004, labor gave $60 million to the effort to defeat Bush and the Republicans. In 2006, labor's volunteers got out the vote in record numbers despite declining membership totals. Indeed, union households totaled about 1/4 of the vote in 2006, and about 75% voted to change Congress and stop Bush.