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AFL-CIO likely to sit out primary endorsement

08.30.07

AFL-CIO likely to sit out primary endorsement

Link to article at The Hill

By Ian Swanson
August 29, 2007

A day after two unions announced their presidential endorsements, AFL-CIO leaders said Wednesday their union is still unlikely to throw its support behind a candidate during the primary season.

Under current rules, a candidate would need the support of two-thirds of the union’s membership, making it difficult to see how an endorsement could be offered anytime soon, according to Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

However, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said affiliated unions are free to make endorsements earlier in the process, but he stressed that they should do so only after thoroughly evaluating the views of their members.

The International Association of Fire Fighters endorsed Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), while the United Transportation Union endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Sweeney said both unions had extensively examined the candidates before making endorsements.

Sweeney announced that the AFL-CIO would launch a new drive to win universal healthcare after the 2008 election. He said all candidates running for office would be held responsible for providing comprehensive healthcare reform.

The AFL-CIO president added that the union was not endorsing any specific healthcare approach at this time, but said legislation offered by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) to create a single-payer system could easily be supported. He said a number of proposals that have been floated would fit in with AFL-CIO principles for healthcare reform.

Sweeney also said every presidential candidate would be held accountable on trade, and that the AFL-CIO will be closely watching the positions that presidential candidates take on votes expected this fall on trade deals with Peru and Panama.

“I do not think we will be supporting those agreements ourselves,” said Sweeney, even though he noted that the deals had been improved with regard to workers’ rights in those countries.

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