Democratic Candidates Vying to Show Solidarity With Workers - NBC 7 San Diego
Decision 2020

Decision 2020

The latest news on the race for president in 2020

Democratic Candidates Vying to Show Solidarity With Workers

While labor has long made up a key pillar of the Democratic Party, many white working-class voters and swing-state union members supported Republican Donald Trump in 2016

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Democratic Candidates Vying to Show Solidarity With Workers
    Richard Vogel/AP
    In this March 20, 2019, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., greets workers during a rally at the University of California Los Angeles. Members of a union representing research and technical workers walked picket lines Wednesday at University of California campuses and hospitals in a one-day strike amid a lengthening stretch of unsuccessful contract negotiations.

    Six Democratic presidential candidates are promoting their solidarity with workers and focusing on wages and other issues of importance to labor as they hope to win support from one of the country's major unions.

    A forum Saturday organized by the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Service Employees International Union comes as union leaders and their backers worry that 2020 field of at least 20 Democratic contenders is not spending enough time on bread-and-butter concerns.

    For example, several candidates this past week debated whether criminals in prison should have the chance to win back their right to vote. It's the type of issue that some labor leaders worry has nothing to do with the economic issues that typically motivate working-class voters. That concern is helping propel former Vice President Joe Biden's newly launched campaign.

    Biden's first public event is Monday at a union hall in Pittsburgh where he is expected to pick up the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

    Who’s Running for President in 2020?

    The race for the 2020 presidential election is underway, and the field of Democratic candidates is already packed and still growing. Those who have filed paperwork or announced presidential bids include a vice president, senators, House members and, so far, at least two mayors. As for the GOP, a single Republican has announced his bid to challenge President Donald Trump for the party nomination: former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who ran for vice president (and lost) in 2016 on the Libertarian party ticket.

    Click to learn more

    Updated May 14, 2019
    Credit: Jo Bruni, Emma Barnett, Asher Klein, Dan Macht, Kelly Zegers / NBC;  Photos: Getty Images

    Labor is a pillar of the Democratic Party, but many white working-class voters and union members in swing states backed Republican Donald Trump in 2016. Democrats are working to win back those voters in the next presidential election, but party leaders and union members are telling candidates that they need to talk about issues that matter to working families.

    "I don't think you can ever have enough" discussion of those issues, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Thursday.

    He said that despite record-low unemployment, "we have so many people unemployed or underemployed." He hoped candidate at Saturday's event focused on ways to deal with automation and a skills gap between what employers want and what job candidates know.

    Much of the Democratic conversation has centered on liberal idea such as "Medicare for All" and the Green New Deal climate change plan. But some of the White House contenders speaking in Las Vegas have made concerted union appeals.

    Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar told airline and rail workers at a union convention in Las Vegas this month that she would enforce prevailing wage laws.

    Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined striking Stop & Shop workers on a picket line in New Hampshire this month. California Sen. Kamala Harris hired a top SEIU official for her campaign.

    Ala. Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Virtually All Abortions

    [NATL] Ala. Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Virtually All Abortions

    Alabama lawmakers have approved a bill banning virtually all abortions, including for women impregnated via rape or incest, making the act a felony at any stage of pregnancy with no exceptions. The bill now heads to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to sign.

    (Published Wednesday, May 15, 2019)

    Others scheduled to speak at the forum are former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Obama housing chief Julian Castro.

    The SEIU, one of the country's largest unions, has about 2 million members. The union said it would consider endorsing a candidate who commits to making it easier for workers to join a union, supports a $15 minimum wage and goes beyond walking a picket line with workers by shadowing them at work.

    The union's president, Mary Kay Henry, said the union has no timeline for an endorsement but does not expect one soon. Henry said the candidates have discussed fragments of the issues faced by working people, such as affordable child care or health care, but generally have not focused on "a comprehensive set of actions that we think the next president can take that would commit to ending poverty wage work in this nation."

    Henry said that includes discussions about "unrigging the rules" of the economy, holding corporations accountable and strengthening unions.

    "You can't really make progress or have the power to improve kitchen-table issues like wages, affordable health care, affordable child care and a secure retirement unless we figure out a way for millions more people to get a seat at the table and be able to bargain," she said.