Labor Lines Up Behind Obama

Feb 20, 2008 5:09pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Sunlen Miller Report: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., picked up the support of the Teamsters on Wednesday, and he is poised to win the endorsement of "Change to Win" on Thursday, further imperiling Sen. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

"Change to Win" is a coalition of seven labor unions which spun off from the AFL-CIO in 2005.

The labor coalition is scheduled to hold a 10:00 am ET conference call on Thursday to consider an endorsement of Obama.

Since the Illinois Democrat now has endorsements from the four largest unions in the labor coalition, he is expected by those familiar with "Change to Win’s" plans to win the group’s endorsement.

A "Change to Win" endorsement of Obama is not a foregone conclusion. One of the coalition’s members — the United Farm Workers — has endorsed Clinton and would be free to lobby its counterparts against making a coalition-wide endorsement.

But with Obama already having won endorsements from four unions in the coalition which comprise more than two-thirds of "Change to Win’s" total membership, he is expected to win the coalition’s endorsement as early as Thursday at 1:00 pm ET.

A "Change to Win" endorsement, if one were made, would likely be announced by conference call.

The key benefit of a "Change to Win" endorsement is coordination: while Obama already has the support of the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union, UNITE Here, and the United Food and Commercial Workers, having "Change to Win’s" endorsement will allow those four member unions to coordinate their efforts with one another and potentially conduct outreach to two other coalition members: the Laborers International Union (which has not endorsed any candidate) and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (which endorsed former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., before he dropped out of the race).

The Teamsters endorsed Obama on Wednesday after the Illinois Democrat met with President James Hoffa in Austin, Texas.

As the nomination fight was getting underway, the Teamsters began surveying its members to decide which candidate to back. A final consensus was not reached until this past weekend when its survey — details of which it has not released — showed widespread support for Obama.

Following his meeting with the Democratic presidential frontrunner, Hoffa released a statement praising Obama as someone who will fight for "better wages, real health care reform, stronger retirement security, fair trade and an end to the outsourcing of good jobs."

Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, knocked Obama’s latest endorsement, saying, "Nothing says ‘change’ like the Teamsters and James Hoffa." But despite the flak he is taking from Republicans for the endorsement, the Teamsters are expected to boost to the freshman senator in Ohio where the Teamsters have 50,000 members.

Ohio, a must-win state for Clinton, votes on March 4.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus