By Mark Wachtler
September 11, 2015. Pittsburgh, PA. (ONN) While we rarely report on either of the two establishment political parties, we at Opposition News can’t help but revel at the revolution independent Senator Bernie Sanders is causing within the Democratic Party. Government employees may control the Party, but unions control the government employees. And many of those unions are bolting from the Democratic establishment and supporting an independent outsider - Bernie Sanders.
Overflow crowds continue to greet Bernie Sanders at campaign appearances. Image courtesy of UneditedPolitics.com.
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First, the largest nurses union in the nation - National Nurses United - officially endorsed US Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President. Then, the AFL-CIO of Vermont and the AFL-CIO of South Carolina added their endorsements to Sanders’ list. That ignited a panic within the DNC and the Democratic Party hierarchy who have already decided Hillary Clinton will be the 2016 nominee of the Party.
In an unprecedented move, and an embarrassment to Clinton, AFL-CIO national President Richard Trumpka sent a memo to all of its union’s local and state affiliates forbidding them from endorsing Bernie Sanders, or anyone else for that matter. Presidential endorsements are the responsibility of the union’s national leadership. But Trumpka isn’t necessarily in the pocket of the former First Lady.
The memo from the AFL-CIO President and obtained by Politico reminds the union’s locals, and even their individual members, that they are not allowed to endorse a Presidential candidate. The memo states, ‘Because in years past, and already this year, a number of questions have been raised, I want to remind you all that the AFL-CIO endorsement for president and vice president belongs to the national AFL-CIO. State federations, central and area labor councils, and all other subordinate bodies must follow the national AFL-CIO endorsement regarding president and vice president.’
But the AFL-CIO’s motives may not be on behalf of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The union’s President, Richard Trumpka, has strongly hinted that his own personal choice for the Democratic nomination is Vice President Joe Biden. Biden and Trumpka are longtime, good friends. And when the President of the nation’s most powerful union marched in a Labor Day parade this week, who did he march with and where? He marched with Joe Biden in the Pittsburgh Labor Day parade.
American Federation of Teachers
Perhaps the biggest blowback came earlier when American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten seemed to go rogue and officially award the union’s endorsement to Hillary Clinton. That created an instant firestorm of backlash by rank and file AFT members who want their union to endorse Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Even independent political analysts blasted Weingarten, a longtime friend and personal donor and director of various Hillary Clinton Super PACs, for jumping the gun and making the endorsement sooner than the union typically announces its endorsement. Four years ago, the teachers union waited until October to endorse Hillary. The move by the AFT leadership this time around caused nearly 5,000 rank and file members to sign a petition on Change.org calling on their national office to withdraw the Clinton endorsement.
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Commonly known as the machinists union or IAM, the 600,000-strong union gave its endorsement to Hillary Clinton last month. That’s what the corporate media showed the American people. What they didn’t show was a near rebellion within the rank and file who passionately support Bernie Sanders. According to a report from In These Times, the union admits the endorsement was the result of a survey of just 1,700 members, in which union leaders claim 71% supported Clinton.
But the IAM’s Facebook page, which boasts 28,831 members, seemed to be clearly in the Bernie Sanders camp. “I cannot describe how disappointed I am with the IAM endorsing Hillary,” said one union member. “Awful choice! I'm with Bernie,” posted another. A third member went on to say, “At monthly meetings, members talk about the real voice of labor (Bernie Sanders) who BTW is beating her in the CNN poll after every meeting. You guys need to wake up and listen to your members.”
Communication Workers and Postal Workers
Two more large national unions that have indicated their support for independent Bernie Sanders, if not awarding him their endorsement yet, are the Communication Workers of America and the American Postal Workers Union. The two unions have worked closely together in the past, including efforts as recently as this week by the CWA to help keep post offices open.
Former CWA President Larry Cohen made no secret about where he stands. He publicly endorsed Sanders. Cohen was also with current Communication Workers union President Chris Shelton and the Postal Workers union President Mark Dimondstein when they met with Senator Sanders about a possible endorsement. The three met with Hillary Clinton too. But the unions invited Sanders into their headquarters for the meeting. The Clinton campaign however, forced the union leaders to travel to the home of longtime Washington insider John Podesta to meet with Hillary.
Labor For Bernie
One indication of organized labor’s growing support for Bernie Sanders is the grassroots movement called ‘Labor For Bernie’. Countless rank and file union members are disobeying their union-imposed gag order and publicly endorsing Bernie Sanders anyway. They include a host of local union leaders from small unions like the Theatrical Stage Employees to the nation’s largest unions like the AFL-CIO.
A quick glimpse down the published list of union endorsers of Bernie Sanders includes dozens, sometimes hundreds, of signatories from unions like the AFL-CIO, UAW, AFSCME, IBEW, AFT, NEA, SEIU, Amalgamated Transit, Postal Workers, Boilermakers, Bricklayers, Carpenters, Communication Workers, Fire Fighters, Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Longshoremen and Warehouse Workers, Ironworkers, Laborers, Nurses, Operating Engineers, Painters, Roofers, Screen Actors Guild, Transport Workers, Food Workers, Plumbers and Pipefitters, Steelworkers, and of course the mighty Teamsters.
The movement’s website, LaborForBernie.org explains, ‘We are union leaders, organizers and labor activists committed to building a broad, effective movement for democratic change. While we come from different unions and backgrounds, our goal is a government that carries out the will of the people, not prop up the profits of the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.’
Appealing to Americans on the left, right and center, the group of grassroots labor leaders says, ‘Franklin D. Roosevelt called out the “economic royalists” of his day. Senator Sanders is picking up the banner. He is the only candidate who clearly challenges the billionaires at the very top who not only stole our pensions, our jobs, our homes, but now are dismantling our democracy. He answers to ‘We The People’ and not to the corporate and financial sectors or members of the privileged elite. Bernie brings the kind of leadership that is necessary to build a real, living democracy and a prosperous sustainable economy.’
Hillary Clinton falling fast
Some of the reasons union members cite when asked why they support Sanders over Clinton are Hillary Clinton’s longtime support of Wall Street corporations over Main Street Americans. Nothing symbolizes that more than the early support banks like Goldman Sachs have thrown Hillary’s way. The bank’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein and other corporate executives have publicly explained that there is little difference between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush, and Wall Street would be happy with either as the next US President.
Illustrating her cozy alliance with the 1%, our sister publication Whiteout Press recently detailed how a full 65% of America’s Fortune 100 corporations are Clinton donors and supporters. Her top 5 financial backers are Microsoft/Bill Gates, Wal-Mart/Walton family, Coca-Cola, the Islamic dictatorship of Qatar, and Goldman Sachs. Questioning the legitimacy of the Clinton fundraising machine, an audit of the Clinton Foundation found that only 15% of the $2 billion donated went to charitable services. The rest went toward ‘overhead’ with much of it ending up in the pockets of the Clintons and the people who run the organization.
Other reasons cited by supporters of Bernie Sanders are Hillary Clinton’s support for perpetual war, secret global trade deals like TPP, and her unwillingness to stand up for the environment. Additional scandals hurting the former First Lady include her approval of the transfer of most of America’s uranium supply to Russia, the Benghazi attack, her secret email accounts, and her destruction of evidence after it was subpoenaed by Congress.
The result has been a slow but steady shift by rank and file Democrats from supporting Clinton to backing Sanders. The latest poll from Iowa shows Sanders leading Clinton 41-40 percent in the state. Only two months ago, Clinton held a 19 percent lead over the independent Sanders (52-33) in the all-important first caucus in the Primary season. In New Hampshire, Sanders’ lead is even more pronounced. There, he leads Clinton 41-32 percent.
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