Quantcast
Connect with us

US labor unions wield increased clout in crowded Democratic 2020 race

Published

on

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is weighing a 2020 presidential bid, will find a friendly audience on Tuesday when he addresses a meeting of the International Association of Firefighters in Washington.

Biden has a decades-long relationship with the IAFF, a labor union that represents more than 300,000 workers, and IAFF President Harold Schaitberger has urged Biden to jump into the White House race.

ADVERTISEMENT

An early endorsement from the union would give Biden extra momentum in a crowded field of more than a dozen Democrats jockeying for the party’s presidential nomination. It could also be an exception this election cycle.

With so many labor-friendly Democratic candidates in the mix, unions expect to have increased clout. But there will be stiff competition to get their formal backing, and endorsements may come later than in past cycles – or not at all, union leaders said in interviews.

“We aren’t rushing in making a decision this time around because we believe the field is so strong and we want to give people an opportunity to answer questions,” said Lee Saunders, the president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which represents more than 1.6 million public employees.

Unions are a force in Democratic politics and endorsements can be a powerful force in primaries and general elections, marshalling the support of millions of union members across the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

If labor groups hold off on endorsing, however, it could mean less organized support from their members for any specific candidate. Those efforts often include making phone calls and knocking on doors to educate and mobilize voters.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which has about 1.7 million members, said the union’s executive council met in February to finalize an endorsement process designed to maximize local engagement that will be presented to members this month.

“You either chase a race or shape a race,” Weingarten said. “We want the candidates to not only hear the aspirations and the values and the needs of our members, we want the candidates to engage with us, not just tell us what they think, but answer the questions of our members.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), with 1.9 million members, will bring back the “walk a day” program it used in the 2007-2008 presidential campaign and invite White House contenders to spend a day at work with one of its members. Participation in the program will be among the criteria the union uses as a baseline for supporting candidates, an official said.

Saunders and Weingarten said they could foresee a scenario in which their memberships are divided among several qualified candidates and the national unions do not endorse during the primary at all.

The AFT was the first national union to endorse Hillary Clinton in June 2015, early in her Democratic primary contest against Senator Bernie Sanders. AFSCME endorsed her in mid-October of that year, and SEIU endorsed Clinton the next month.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sanders secured national endorsements from National Nurses United, the American Postal Workers Union and the Communications Workers of America.

The IAFF did not endorse a 2016 presidential candidate after Biden decided not to run.

In Iowa, which holds the first presidential nominating contest, Clinton defeated Sanders by less than one percentage point but won union households by 9 percentage points. AFSCME said hundreds of its members there knocked on more than 8,000 doors.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the week before the November 2016 contest against now President Donald Trump, the SEIU mobilized tens of thousands of members and volunteers to knock on 1.4 million doors in swing states on Clinton’s behalf.

Weingarten said even if an AFT endorsement is delayed, or comes after the primary, the union will encourage its members to get involved with candidates they support.

“We’re not saying to people don’t get involved until we endorse,” Weingarten said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Phil Berlowitz

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

Obama’s chief economist warns of ‘a very high chance’ Trump’s trade war could cause 2020 recession

Published

on

The former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama warned of "a very high chance" of Trump's trade war with China resulting in a recession -- "just in time for 2020."

Austan Goolsbee was interviewed by MSNBC's John Heilemann on Friday after the DJIA closed down over 600 points after the trade war escalated on Friday.

"Just give us, if you would, Austan, your sense of what has unfolded today and how bad it is," Heilemann asked.

"Yes, it’s terrible, I'm phoning from a bunker as we speak," Goolsbee replied.

"There hasn’t been a day like this in a very long time. Yes, the markets sell a lot but the fact we’re going to have an escalating trade war, the president of the United States is publicly declaring the head of the Fed an enemy of the state and, oh, by the way, 40% of the Amazon is on fire and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being treated for pancreatic cancer," he continued. "If this is on a Friday, it makes it bad for Monday."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump responds to China raising tariffs — by raising tariffs on over half a trillion dollars in Chinese goods

Published

on

After US markets tanked on Friday, President Donald Trump dramatically escalated his trade war with China.

"For many years China (and many other countries) has been taking advantage of the United States on trade, intellectual property theft, and much more. Our country has been losing hundreds of billions of dollars a year to China, with no end in sight," Trump tweeted.

"Sadly, past Administrations have allowed China to get so far ahead of fair and balanced trade that it has become a great burden to the American taxpayer. As President, I can no longer allow this to happen," he argued.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

MSNBC anchor blasts Trump’s ‘lunacy’ after ‘a Twitter tirade that sent the Dow spiraling’

Published

on

The New York Stock Exchange closed down over 600 points on Friday as President Donald Trump's trade war with China escalated.

MSNBC anchor John Heilemann said, "we’re hours away for the president taking off to the G7 summit in Bairritz, France, where allies are bracing for the Trump-fueled mayhem that is now 100% certain to ensue, with Trump like a drunken traveler in the departure lounge about to take a trip that he dreads, already sewing global chaos, days-long public meltdown typically moved from words to actions."

"Donald Trump beginning this day with a Twitter tirade that sent the Dow spiraling, closing down more than 600 points today and escalating his trade war with China with these norm-shattering, power-abusing words in this tweet," he said, putting the tweet on-screen.

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image