Hillary Clinton has collected a good number of endorsements from individual labor unions. That has helped to solidify her status as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
But Clinton will not soon collect the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, the labor federation with which the majority of the nation’s unions are affiliated. And that, say backers of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, opens the way for grassroots labor activists to step up their campaigning for the insurgent challenger.
For months, there was speculation about whether the AFL-CIO executive council might make an endorsement at its February 21–24 winter meeting in San Diego
But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka ended the speculation Wednesday.
“Our Executive Council will discuss the 2016 election cycle during its Winter Meeting, but no presidential endorsement will be made,” Trumka wrote in an e-mail distributed to executive council members in advance of San Diego meeting. “From the very start of the presidential contest, we have been clear that we have an endorsement process in place, and that we will continue to follow that process in accordance with our Constitution.”
According to a Huffington Post report, Trumka explained to the executive council members that, “Following recent discussion at the AFL-CIO’s Executive Committee meeting and subsequent conversations with many of you, I have concluded that there is broad consensus for the AFL-CIO to remain neutral in the presidential primaries for the time being and refrain from endorsing any candidate at this moment.”
The decision comes as Clinton and Sanders are campaigning aggressively for the support of union members in Nevada, where Democrats will caucus on Saturday, and in a host of labor strongholds that will soon hold caucuses and primaries. And Sanders backers welcomed it as a boost for the Vermont senator, who beat Clinton in the New Hampshire primary and whose poll numbers have spiked in recent weeks. Former Communications Workers of America union president Larry Cohen, a key Sanders backer, says the neutral stance by the AFL-CIO “means that union members and other working Americans are not going to be facing a coordinated campaign from the AFL-CIO for the other candidate.”