Postal Workers Union Endorses Bernie Sanders, in Boost to Underdog

The Wall Street Journal - November 12, 2015

The union representing postal workers is announcing its endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders for president on Thursday, giving the underdog candidate a much-needed boost in his effort to topple Hillary Clinton, who remains far ahead in the race for union support.

Mr. Sanders’s views and record typically line up more closely with unions’ priorities, and the American Postal Workers Union said his years of work on their causes won members over.

“Politics as usual has not worked. It’s time for a political revolution,” union president Mark Dimondstein said in a statement, echoing Mr. Sanders’s battle cry.

His statement appeared to dismiss concerns from some that Mr. Sanders has been a political independent for decades, not a Democrat. The union was unmoved by Mrs. Clinton’s recent opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership, an Asian free trade agreement that unions have fought and that Mr. Sanders has long opposed.

“We should judge candidates not by their political party, not by what they say, not by what we think they stand for, but by what they do,” Mr. Dimondstein said.

He also noted Mr. Sanders’s long-time efforts to fight privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, and to keep post offices and mail facilities open amid budget cuts.

While union membership nationally has declined, the labor movement plays an important role in elections because of its ability to turn out like-minded voters to the polls.

Mrs. Clinton still has far more labor support than her rival, owing to her longtime ties with union leaders, generally liberal positions, and a belief among many that she is the most electable Democrat running. So far, she has won endorsements of 12 national unions, including a few of the largest in the nation such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the American Federation of Teachers, each of which have 1.6 million members.

By contrast, the postal workers union has about 200,000 members. Mr. Sanders also has support of one other major national union, the National Nurses United, with nearly 185,000 members.

Mr. Sanders, a Vermont senator, had courted labor in general and the postal workers in particular, speaking to some 2,000 members at the union’s October conference in Las Vegas. In its announcement, the union’s national executive board said it was encouraging members to participate in Sanders’s rallies and join Labor for Bernie, a grassroots group of supporters from unions, including some who have endorsed Mrs. Clinton and others that remain neutral.