Hillary Endorsement Causes Rift Within Major Union

A coalition of local union chapters came outFriday against national leaders at the ServiceEmployees International Union (SEIU) for supportingDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her rivalBernie Sanders.

Labor for Bernie includes many local union chapters,notably some from within the SEIU. The coalition hasused rallies and grassroots mobilizingcampaigns to advocate for the Vermont-democratic socialist. DespiteBernie getting a lot of support from local chapters, nationalleaders at the SEIU announced an official endorsement of HillaryNov. 17.

“SEIU’s decision to endorse Clinton is short-sightedand unprincipled,” a coalition email obtained by The DailyCaller News Foundation declared. “It is based on a failedstrategy of engaging in purely ‘transactional’ politicswith corporate liberals.  That’s why members whosupport Bernie Sanders are sounderstandably frustrated.”

Though the coalition consists mostly of local unions, theAmerican Postal Workers Union, the United Electrical Workers andthe National Nurses United also have representation. FormerCommunications Workers of America President Larry Cohen is helpingto lead the effort.

“Many feel that SEIU’s endorsement process wasinsufficiently responsive to rank-and-file sentiment,” theemail continued. “Some are threatening to stop theirvoluntary contributions to SEIU political action funds.”

Early on, it looked like Bernie was destined to win over thelabor movement. He quickly gained support among manylocal unions, while Hillary struggled to gain momentum. The problemfor unions was her opposition to the Keystone Pipelineand her hesitance to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP).

Sanders was much more adamantly opposed to the trade deal. Hehas also made issues important to the labor movement a central partof his campaign. In July, Sanders introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to$15 an hour. The problem was, some national union leaders feared he was not electable.

That all changed, though, in the past month. The growing wave ofsupport for Hillary began after Bidenannounced Oct. 21 he would not be running for president. Not long after the announcement, a fewof the biggest unions in the country decided to back Hillary. Rand Wilson, a unionstaffer and participant in the coalition, is urging nationalleaders to give locals the space to continue advocating forBernie.

“While the national union may campaign for Clinton, we call on union leaders to respect thoseof us who have made up our minds to continue to supportBernie Sanders,” Wilson was quotes inthe email as saying.  “We have a legitimatedifference of opinion about which candidate will best advance ourissues, but everyone should respect and tolerate those differencesand stay united behind our shared objectives.”

Labor for Bernie includes local chapters of the SEIU from acrossthe country. It also includes chapters of the American Federationof Teachers, Communications Workers of America, the InternationalBrotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Brotherhood OfCarpenters, AFL-CIO and the Vermont State Labor Council.

Despite the national endorsement, it appears the SEIU issomewhat fractured on the local level. Some chapters have arguedleadership should not endorse anyone at the moment, while othershave maintained silence, and still others have thrown their hats inwith Bernie.

Nevertheless, Hillary was able to secure support with TheAmerican Federation of Teachers back in Julyand the International Association of Machinists and AerospaceWorkers back in August. Despite his ownunion’s hesitance toward Hillary, AFL-CIOPresident Richard Trumka sent a memo to the leaders of associated unionsin July telling them not to endorse Sanders.

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