The empress strikes back: Pro-Hillary unions issuing ‘statement’ today in aftermath of AFL-CIO not endorsing her
Hillary forces are trying to undo some of the damage she suffered when the AFL-CIO announced that “it would not vote during its executive council meeting this week on whether to endorse a candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries.” That move was widely seen as a setback to Hillary Clinton, who has made labor union support a keystone of her coalition.
Noam Scheiber of the New York Times’ First Draft blog describes the jockeying underway as Hillary seeks to recover her dignity and squash the Sanders campaign’s nascent support among labor unions:
… a group of more than 20 unions representing more than 10 million workers is releasing a statement on Monday reaffirming support for Mrs. Clinton.
Secretary Clinton has proven herself as the fighter and champion working people and their families need in the White House,” the statement says. “That is why, of all unions endorsing a candidate in the Democratic primary, the vast majority of the membership in these unions has endorsed her.
Unfortunately for Hillary, she does not have quite enough support for the union federation to make an official endorsement, so this trumped up (pardon the expression) consolation prize statement will have to do for now:
To win an endorsement, a candidate must get the support of unions representing at least two-thirds of the federation’s 9.3 million members. Mrs. Clinton was roughly one million votes shy of this total at the time the federation decided to abandon the process last week, according to two sources briefed on the decision.
The hard fact the union bosses must face, no matter how cozy their relationship with Hillary, is that she is losing support among union members in parallel with her general drop in support:
Exit and entrance polls from the Iowa and Nevada caucuses showed voters from union households favoring Mrs. Clinton over Mrs. Sanders by a roughly 10-point margin — greater than the margin by which Mrs. Clinton won those contests overall.
Still, that 10-point margin — assuming it is correct, which is not necessarily assured — may reflect a narrowing of the gap between the two candidates among union members since last fall. In the three polls that AFSCME conducted between last May and October, more than 60 percent of its Democratic members consistently backed Mrs. Clinton, versus no more than 20 percent who backed Mr. Sanders.
It is impossible to know the margins by which members of specific unions voted for Mrs. Clinton in this year’s early primary contests, but other evidence suggests significant pockets of support for Mr. Sanders. The AFSCME council in Washington State endorsed him in January, and a prominent service employees union local in New Hampshire endorsed him in November.
AFSCME is one of very few unions that is growing, since it represents government employees. Bernie Sanders’s plans to vastly increase the size and scope of government would be an obvious boon to the union bosses, who stand to collect mandatory dues payments from more members forced to join. The old-line industrial unions supporting Hillary continue to shrink, having made their employers uncompetitive in world markets. That Hillary’s support is concentrated in the older, shrinking sector of unions is a telling point, not lost on all union bosses.
In the end, if Hillary muscles her way to the nomination, the AFL-CIO will back her, undoubtedly. But in the meantime, she is trying to save as much face as possible as Sanders continues to eat her lunch.