By bringing members to Iowa, public-sector unions saved Clinton from a loss.
It is well known that, without unions, there would be no Democratic Party to speak of.
It is also well known that, without union ground support and the billions spent on politics in direct and indirect contributions, most Democrats—including Barack Obama—would never be elected to public office.
No one know this better than Hillary Clinton and her advisors, which explains her flip flops on issues like trade (TPP) and immigration.
Yet, in a “Right-to-Work” state like Iowa—with only 9.6 percent of its workforce unionized—how did Clinton pull off a win over her rival Bernie Sanders and his enthusiastic youth brigade in Monday night’s caucuses?
Very simple. Despite Sanders’ own backing from rank-and-file union members, Clinton relied on the big purse strings and political muscle from the “Big Four” government unions who have already endorsed her, according to The American Prospect.
The linchpins of Clinton’s labor support are the nation’s four giant public employee unions: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); the National Education Association (NEA); and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). (No more than half of SEIU’s roughly two million members work in the public sector, however.)
These “Big Four” alone represent more than 7.5 million union members—roughly, half the nation’s union members. While the AFL-CIO, labor’s omnibus federation, has not yet endorsed a candidate (a few of its largest unions, such as the Steelworkers, remain holdouts), the Big Four have been known to coordinate their election work without the AFL-CIO’s assistance—a necessity, in this case, since the NEA and SEIU are not AFL-CIO members. This year, on Clinton’s behalf, they are pooling their vast member ranks and substantial political coffers to animate a coordinated offensive in Iowa and beyond.
On the Sunday before caucus day, the Machinists Hall in Cedar Rapids was filling up with union members, quickly turning into a sea of green (AFSCME), blue (teachers unions), and purple (SEIU). It was canvass launch day for the Big Four unions and in coordination with the Clinton campaign, volunteers were planning on hitting more than 11,000 homes in the area.
Since its endorsement for Clinton in November, SEIU has steadily been building a legion of member-volunteers in Iowa to canvass and phone bank. By the weekend before the caucus, the union had more than 100 members in from surrounding areas—nurses from Minnesota, home care workers from Detroit, Fight for 15 activists from Memphis, and even a Headstart teacher from West Virginia. [Emphasis added]
Aside from the fact that Clinton’s tight victory be attributed to six very lucky coin tosses, it would appear that, were it not for the “Big Four” unions, Sanders’ supporters would have been awakened Tuesday morning victorious.
- First Read: Why Clinton’s Trade Flip-Flop Is So Unbelievable
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