Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won the endorsement of the American Postal Workers Union on Thursday, giving the self-described democratic socialist a boost as he seeks more support from organized labor in the Democratic primary.
APWU represents 200,000 U.S. Postal Service employees and retirees. It's the second major national union and member of the AFL-CIO labor federation to endorse Sanders over rival and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Sanders "stands above all others as a true champion of postal workers and other workers throughout the country," said Mark Dimondstein, the union's president, in a statement. The endorsement came from the union's 13-member executive board.
Although he's one of unions' closest allies in Congress, Sanders still trails well behind Clinton when it comes to official backing from organized labor. The former secretary of state has already nabbed endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, all of them huge public-sector unions.
The other national union to endorse Sanders was National Nurses United. The biggest fish -- the AFL-CIO itself -- is unlikely to endorse while the primary is still being disputed.
Sanders has long been a vocal backer of a robust postal service, particularly during the postal reform debate of recent years. APWU views itself as fighting a battle against postal service privatization, and it counts the Vermont senator as perhaps its leading defender.
As the postal service bleeds millions in losses -- mostly due to unique funding mandates placed upon it by Congress -- Sanders has staunchly opposed the closure of postal facilities and cuts in postal service, such as Saturday delivery. He is also a leading proponent of the concept of postal banking, which would allow post offices to provide small loans and compete with payday lenders. Postal banking is a top issue for APWU, and Sanders has sought to make it a campaign issue.
In his statement, Dimondstein noted Sanders' long history of standing with workers on picket lines, as well as his support for a national $15 per hour minimum wage. Sanders spoke at a protest against Verizon last month that was held by the Communications Workers of America union, and he joined a Fight for $15 rally outside the U.S. Capitol building earlier this week.
"We should judge candidates not by their political party, not by what they say, not by what we think they stand for, but by what they do," Dimondstein said. "[Sanders] walks the walk."