POLITICS

Hillary Clinton Nabs Another Big Endorsement

With the backing of yet another major union, the Democratic front-runner pulls further ahead of Bernie Sanders in labor support.

Hillary Clinton just locked down another endorsement from a major labor union as she seeks the Democratic nomination for president, solidifying her hold on organized labor's backing in the primary.

The Laborers' International Union of North America, or LIUNA, announced Tuesday that it would be throwing its weight behind the front-runner, rather than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) or former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. The union said in a statement that it arrived at the decision after a membership poll and a vote by the union's executive board.

"LIUNA members are deeply concerned about the direction of our country and are looking for a real leader who will create good jobs, rebuild our country, and grow our economy," Terry O’Sullivan, the union's president, said in a statement. "Secretary Clinton’s record proves that she is a tough and tested fighter for our nation and for working men and women."

LIUNA has roughly a half-million members working mostly in the construction and building trades. In response to the announcement, the Clinton campaign said the candidate was "honored" to have the endorsement and would "fight to increase investment in our infrastructure."

The LIUNA announcement continues a trend of Clinton securing backing from the largest U.S. unions and doing so early in the 2016 race. Still two and a half months out from the Iowa caucuses, Clinton has already received endorsements from unions representing a strong majority of the country's unionized workers.

The decision by unions to line up behind Clinton has stung for the Sanders campaign. The Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist has been a staunch ally of organized labor throughout his more than two decades in Congress, and he counts many passionate supporters among the rank-and-file union workforce. A wing of the Sanders campaign called Labor for Bernie has tried unsuccessfully to convince several unions to hold off on their early endorsements for Clinton.

The share of workers in the U.S. who belong to a union may be shrinking, but organized labor remains a political force in elections, lending their considerable ground game to the candidates they support. With the threats posed to organized labor by a GOP-occupied White House, some unions are probably rallying around Clinton quickly in hopes of having a strong and clear candidate for the general election.

So far, Sanders has won the endorsements of just two national unions -- National Nurses United, which represents 185,000 workers, and the American Postal Workers Union, which has 200,000 members. A number of local unions have also opted to endorse Sanders independent of their nationals.

Clinton, meanwhile, has won endorsements from some of the largest public-sector unions -- the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, which together boast 4.6 million members, as well as the 1.6 million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Just last week, she got the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union, which represents 2 million workers in the service sector and has spearheaded the Fight for $15 campaign in the fast-food industry.

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