Friday, February 15, 2008

Labor Starting to Move for Obama

By Joel Wendland

After initially deciding to hold off on endorsing candidates last fall, two unions have decided to line up with Barack Obama in the campaign for the Democratic nomination.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) announced Feb. 14 that it was endorsing Obama.

According to the Associated Press, UFCW's President Joe Hansen said of Obama:
Senator Obama's message of changing hope into reality has inspired our members, particularly our young members, across the country.

While both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have a vision to change America, we believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to build a movement to unite our country that will deliver the type of change that is needed for good jobs, affordable health care, retirement security and worker safety.

UFCW has 1.3 million members nationally, including tens of thousands in the upcoming primary states.

Media accounts also say that Obama will win the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest union in the country with 1.9 million members and the largest campaign war chest.

The SEIU endorsement is not big surprise after the California chapter of SEIU, with its 600,000 members, and both the Nevada and Illinois chapters backed Obama.

These major union endorsements come on the heels of Obama's important victories last Tuesday in Virginia, Maryland, and Louisiana. In Virginia, Obama carried almost all of the major demographic groups in that key battleground state. In Louisiana and Maryland, Obama handily won the labor vote, according to exit polls. Both of those trends represent huge shifts in primary voting patterns in favor of Obama, especially after Super Duper Mega Whopper Tuesday.

Obama won endorsements from UNITE HERE, which cited Obama's strong candidacy and good positions on issues facing working families as well as Clinton's relationship with anti-union PR mogul Mark Penn as the main reasons, and the Plumber and Pipe Fitters in January.

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