Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sen. Clinton: Racking Up Labor Endorsements

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.


normandmarkowitz said...

It is interesting that the unions that have endorsed Clinton are largely public employee unions(which have great pressure on them to back winners, since they depend directly on government) and unions of craft workers(including IATSE, which has an ugly right-wing history during the postwar media purges and blacklists. Edwards has the support of significant industrial unions like the mine workers and the steel workers, even though their numbers have dropped sharply. Obama's lack of endorsements is also interesting(particularly since on the record he is at least as entitled to them as Clinton I have no explanation for that except that the union's which could endorse Obama, both the industrial unions and the public sector unions, both of which have substantial minority membership are backing Edwards because he has directly appealed to them(Obama's voting record in the Senate is at least as goods his)or Clinton, because they, public sector unions see her as the favorite

Joel said...

Key word: winner.

Also, USW (et al) also have ugly cold war histories (e.g. what happened between them union and the Mine, Mill and Smelterworkers union). So let's not make too much out of that history and specific endorsements made in 2007. I'd argue that anti-communism in the labor movement has a great deal to do with the decline of labor and some of the major policy positions it took in the Cold War, but choosing between Sen. Clinton and John Edwards in 2007? That's a bit of a stretch.

Also we have yet to see the endorsements from UAW and some of the others. I suspect they will wait until the post-primary period to endorse Sen. Clinton.

normandmarkowitz said...

Joel is right about the
USW and the Mine Workers for that matter in terms of the postwar era. I was only pointing out that they were industrial unions, historically having played a much better role than some of the craft unions endorsing Clinton. Winner is certainly the key and Clinton looks like that, even though Edwards positions and general campaign have been so far much better than hers on labor related issues. Labor and Obama is in some ways a more interesting question, since he has a better chance I think at the moment to take off in the primaries.