Hillary Clinton on Friday won the endorsement of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, making it the second national union to give the Democratic front-runner the stamp of approval.
The endorsement could boost Hillary Clinton as she seeks to woo labor, even as her main Democratic rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has eroded her edge in opinion polls and has himself landed the endorsement of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest organization of nurses.
“Hillary Clinton’s long record of supporting workers’ rights stands in stark contrast to her Republican rivals, who seek to ban unions, silence workers, eliminate sensible regulations and give corporations total control over working conditions,” union President Tom Buffenbarger said in a statement.
The union, based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, is holding its national staff conference in New York. It represents nearly 600,000 active and retired members, according to its website.
Hillary Clinton expressed gratitude for the endorsement, saying in a statement that she would work “to ensure that all workers have the fundamental right to organize, to join a union, and to retire with dignity and security after decades of hard work.” Clinton, who has made economic inequality a main theme of her campaign, called steady, strong gains in income “the defining economic challenge of our time.”
Hillary Clinton is trying to win over labor – often a key source of volunteers and funds for Democrats – as part of an effort to build a broad coalition within her party and avoid a potentially damaging, drawn-out primary fight. The winner of the primary contest will face the Republican nominee in the November 2016 election.
Hillary Clinton has already won the backing of the American Federation of Teachers.
But union leaders nationwide are pressing Clinton on issues ranging from the minimum wage to international trade.
One flashpoint is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement backed by President Barack Obama but opposed by unions, which see it as bad for U.S. jobs and wages.
Hillary Clinton has remained neutral on the deal, saying that a final agreement must protect American workers.
She was secretary of state during Obama’s first term, and was part of the administration’s push to strengthen ties with Asia.