Bernie Bits: SEIU Picks Clinton Over Sanders | Off Message
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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bernie Bits: SEIU Picks Clinton Over Sanders

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 at 9:23 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) hailed his endorsement Monday by the Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific — a tiny group of 4,000 merchant mariners, warehouse workers and cannery employees. 

The next day, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton swamped him, taking the coveted endorsement of the two-million-member Service Employees International Union. 

"Hillary Clinton has proven she will fight, deliver and win for working families," SEIU president Mary Kay Henry said in a written statement Tuesday. "SEIU members and working families across America are part of a growing movement to build a better future for their families, and Hillary Clinton will support and stand with them."

The SEIU's endorsement is a further blow to Sanders' presidential campaign, which has struggled to win the backing of major national unions, despite the senator's longstanding support for the labor movement.

While two smaller unions representing nurses and postal workers have endorsed him, Clinton has won the support of most of the country's major unions, including the National Education Association; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and the American Federation of Teachers. According to Politico, Clinton has been endorsed by groups representing nearly two-thirds of the country's 14.6 million unionized workers.

The SEIU, which has fought to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, announced its endorsement just three days after Clinton rejected a $15 minimum wage at a Des Moines debate. Citing research by former Council of Economic Advisors chair Alan Krueger showing that such a wage hike could lead to job losses, Clinton said she would prefer to raise it to $12 an hour.

Sanders disagreed. 

"It is not a radical idea to say that if somebody works 40 hours a week that person should not be living in poverty. It is not a radical idea to say that a single mom should be earning enough money to take care of her kids," he said in Des Moines. "So I believe that over the next few years, not tomorrow, that over the next few years we have got to move the minimum wage to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour. And I apologize to nobody."

In response to the SEIU's announcement Tuesday, Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs touted the support he said his boss had received from "rank-and-file SEIU members."

"We are gratified that hundreds of thousands of workers are part of the growing grassroots movement supporting Bernie's campaign to help working families by raising the minimum wage, providing health care for all and making college affordable," Briggs said.

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About The Author

Paul Heintz

Paul Heintz

Paul Heintz is a staff writer and political editor for Seven Days. He wrote the "Fair Game" political column from May 2012 through December 2016.


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