Unions and the 2016 Campaign

Posted by Olivia Grady on Friday, July 8th, 2016 at 5:40 pm - Permalink

Unions support 2016 Democrat presidential candidates

Despite the fact that unions claim to represent members of different political persuasions, many national and local unions during the 2016 presidential race have endorsed Democrat presidential candidates and supported their campaigns.

While Secretary Hillary Clinton has received the majority of endorsements from national labor unions, Senator Bernie Sanders has received surprising support from some local and regional unions. Given their support for Democrats, union PACs have spent less than 20 percent on Republican federal candidates of the almost $30 million they have spent during this election cycle.

Check out a timeline of some major union endorsements:

July 11, 2015 - American Federation for Teachers endorses Hillary Clinton.

AFT was the first national union to endorse a candidate in the 2016 Democrat presidential primary. Due to its early endorsement of Secretary Clinton, it has spent over $700,000 in the 2016 race, but only Democrat candidates have received its support.

During a recent conference call set up by the Democratic National Committee, AFT President Randi Weingarten discussed Donald Trump:

What we’ve seen with Donald Trump is that there is now a new phenomenon in schools called the ‘Trump Effect.’ It will take decades to overcome the way Donald Trump speaks and promotes violence, xenophobia and racism. This is creating bullying environments in schools across the country.

October 3, 2015 - National Education Association endorses Hillary Clinton.

Similarly, the NEA has already spent over one million dollars on federal candidates with over 90 percent spent on Democrat candidates. In its endorsement of Clinton, NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said:

Clinton is a strong leader who will do what is best for America's students. For more than four decades, Clinton has fought to make sure all children have a fair opportunity to succeed regardless of their ZIP code. Clinton will continue to advocate on behalf of students, educators and working families because she understands the road to a stronger U.S. economy starts in America's public schools.

October 23, 2015 - American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees endorses Hillary Clinton.

AFSCME has spent almost one million dollars on federal candidates in this election cycle; 100 percent of these contributions has gone to Democrats. AFSCME President Lee Saunders described the presidential candidates:

This election offers a stark choice between an unstoppable champion for working families and an unstable charlatan who made his fortune scamming them. Working people know that Hillary Clinton has the temperament and experience to unite all Americans in our fight to increase incomes at home and extinguish threats abroad.

November 5, 2015 - American Postal Workers Union endorses Bernie Sanders.

In contrast with other national unions who have supported Hillary Clinton, the APWU endorsed Bernie Sanders. During the 2016 election, the union has so far spent over $300,000. However, it has spent more on Republican candidates than many of the other unions with only 89 percent of the funds supporting Democrat candidates. Of Sanders, APWU President Mark Dimondstein said in the endorsement announcement:

No other candidate has his record of fighting to defend and expand Social Security, promoting ‘Medicare for all,’ and opposing ‘fast track trade authority’ and rotten deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

November 17, 2015 - Service Employees International Union endorses Hillary Clinton.

Similar to other national unions, the SEIU has spent over $600,000 with zero percent of the money supporting Republican federal candidates.

December 10, 2015 - American Federation of Government Employees endorses Hillary Clinton.

While the AFGE has spent over $470,000 this election cycle, Republicans have actually received sixteen percent of the funds. This is one of the highest levels of support for Republican candidates by a national union. Despite this, the union published a web page explaining why union leadership supported Clinton:

We need someone with the spine to stand strong against the anti-government ideologues that want to shut down the government and eliminate your jobs.

December 17, 2015 - Communications Workers of America votes to endorse Bernie Sanders.

While CWA initially endorsed Bernie Sanders, it has since endorsed Hillary Clinton after Clinton became the presumptive Democrat nominee. The CWA has spent almost one million dollars this election cycle, but only three percent has supported Republican candidates. CWA President Chris Shelton stated in the endorsement press release:  

Bernie Sanders stands with working families against corporate greed, against Wall Street and the big banks, against politics as usual. He stands against the flood of money in politics that’s corrupting our democracy and attacking the right to vote. He knows that we have to take on the rich and powerful special interests to turn around this economy and end the 40 years of stagnant wages that working families have endured.

However, after CWA later endorsed Clinton, Shelton made remarks at a conference:

Donald Trump is a mindless jerk who threatens to destroy our country. Hillary Clinton is a thoughtful and experienced leader with whom we have sometimes had disagreements. It’s a no-brainer.

January 12, 2016 - Washington Federation of State Employees, a chapter of AFSCME, votes to support Bernie Sanders.

WFSE is an example of the many local and regional unions who have endorsed Bernie Sanders despite the fact that their national union has endorsed Hillary Clinton. Many local and regional union members have expressed their disappointment in their national union’s endorsement of Clinton because Sanders is viewed as an even greater supporter of unions than Clinton.

March 3, 2016 - United Farm Workers endorses Hillary Clinton.

In an endorsement statement, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez said that Clinton is “the best equipped to defeat the nativist, hateful forces of the current Republican frontrunner.”

May 25, 2016 - United Automobile Workers endorses Hillary Clinton.

The UAW has spent over $500,000 this election cycle, solely on Democrat federal candidates.

“Mr. Trump clearly does not support the economic security of UAW families,” said UAW President Dennis Williams.

June 16, 2016 – American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations endorses Hillary Clinton.

Given its recent endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the AFL-CIO has only spent $35,000 on federal candidates. Three percent of these funds has supported Republican candidates. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement:

[W]e will run a sophisticated, targeted ground campaign. And with the dire consequences Donald Trump poses for America’s working families, it has to be.

While there are still some unions who have not endorsed a presidential candidate, such as Teamsters, they are likely to endorse Hillary Clinton after she has officially been nominated the Democrat presidential candidate. Some unions, however, like the United Mine Workers, have decided not to endorse anyone, and even more surprising is the fact that many union workers support Donald Trump.

Please check back later for an updated timeline as more unions endorse presidential candidates.