Will This Major Union Turn Its Back on Hillary over Trade?

By Published on May 29, 2015

The already troublesome relationship between Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and unions hit another snag Thursday when the AFL-CIO warned her of consequences for not opposing trade.

During an interview with USA Today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka showed considerable disappointment with Clinton for not having a strong opposition to the ongoing trade talks to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Trumka warned Clinton may face serious political consequences as a result.

“She’s going to have to answer that,” Trumka noted. “I think she won’t be able to go through a campaign without answering that and people will take it seriously and it will affect whether they vote for her or don’t vote for her.”

Unions wield considerable political influence and are some of the most generous contributors during campaigns, especially to Democrats. If the AFL-CIO or other major unions decide not to officially endorse her, it could be devastating for Clinton.

Many, primarily on the left, argue the deal will be used to benefit corporations and special interests at the expense of working Americans. Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has decided not to run for president despite strong support among Democrats, has shown a much stronger opposition to the trade deal.

Unions have also been considerably upset with other Democrats for the same reason. Last week, the Senate passed a fast-track measure which is now to be decided by the House. If passed, the president could submit a finalized trade deal to Congress, like TPP, which could not be amended or filibustered and would only need a straight up or down vote to pass.

“Thirteen Democrats left their base,” Trumka noted. “They decided to pass something that was going to cost jobs and lower wages, and they’re going to have to answer to their constituencies for that.”

“They’ll be held accountable; there’s no question about that,” Trumka warned.

Despite not yet demonstrating a strong position on trade, Hillary has still tried in other ways to court unions. She prominently showed off union-made gear Tuesday during the official launch of her online campaign shop and last week she urged people to stand firmly for unions during a speech in Chicago.

Even without the wave of endorsements, unions have been very generous, including donating to her charitable group The Clinton Foundation, which has been the center of controversy as of recently.

According to documents from Department of Labor, which were obtained by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRB), organized labor gave at least $2,034,500 to the Foundation. The charitable group, which has broken an earlier promise to publish all of its donors, has been criticized as being nothing more than a slush fund for the Clintons. Additionally some have criticized Hillary for making favorable deals with foreign entities in return for donations to the foundation.


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