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Clinton, Sanders Appear At IE Rallies, As Both Work To Woo Calif. Union Voters


We had 3 rallies for 3 Presidential candidates in the Inland Empire yesterday (Tuesday).  Hillary Clinton headlined a rally at UC Riverside yesterday afternoon.Bernie Sanders held rallies in both Riverside and San Bernardino yesterday.  And there was a Donald Trump rally in Mentone, a small community north of Redlands, where there was a crowd of supporters, but no candidate.  Trump was scheduled to appear a rally in Anaheim today.  Clinton was also scheduled to be in Orange County today, at an event in the community of Buena Park.  And Bernie Sanders was scheduled to start his campaign day with a morning rally in the Palm Springs area.

As Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders barnstorm California in search of votes in the June 7th primary, they often have labor leaders and members at their sides.  Unions don’t have has many members as they used to. But their endorsements are still valuable. As part of our California Counts election coverage, Katie Orr of KQED’s Politics and Government Desk looks at where union support is lining up in the Democratic presidential primary and why.

About 2.5 million union members call California home. And come election season their support could be critical to helping campaigns turn out the vote.

Amb: chanting

Hillary Clinton knows how important the labor vote is. She gave unions a shout-out at recent rally in Oakland.

Act 1: “We need strong unions and I will stand up for that basic American right.” (:06)

The Former Secretary of State has been doing well with labor, collecting major endorsements from unions representing teachers, government employees, and food workers.Clinton also has the support of the Service Employees International Union. Yvonne Walker is President of SEIU Local 1000. She says it’s not just that Clinton is better on one issue or another. Rather she says it’s their long history of working together on issues that tilted their endorsement toward Clinton instead of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Act 2: “She is part of all of our platform be it women and children, economics, all of that in a very real way.” (:09)

But Sanders has his labor supporters too. He has endorsements from communication workers, healthcare employees and postal workers. Among his most visible backers are the California Nurses Association and its umbrella organization National Nurses United.The group is a powerful ally for Sanders.

Ambi  Fade up singing and “He looks out for us 99% against the corporate greed1”

The nurses recently rallied for Sanders at the state Capitol. Deborah Burger is Co-President of both unions. She says Sanders is the only candidate who would represent everyone in the United States. She jokes he essentially stole their platform.

Act 3: “We’ve been working on single payer Medi-Care for all. We’ve been working on securing social security and expanding it. And we’ve been trying to make sure that people can go to college and not end up with a mountain load of debt.” (:13)

Burger says her organization is sticking with Sanders until the end and will make sure that he has a major influence on the platform Democrats will adopt at their national convention in Philadelphia.

Such steadfast support is crucial to candidates. Kent Wong directs the UCLA Labor Center. He says even though membership is declining, unions are still powerful political players.

Act 4: “Labor’s endorsement has had a huge impact in opening up financial resources, as well as campaign activists. So when a candidate receives a labor endorsement, it’s a big deal.” (:15)

Though the ongoing nomination fight between Sanders and Clinton has been tough, Wong says he expects labor to come together for the general election. In fact, he expects union members to be even more energetic since it appears Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee.

Act 5: “He is fiercely opposed to unions, to worker rights. And so I do think that this will be a strong rallying cry for unions and workers across the country who want to oppose Donald Trump and the policies that he represents.” (:16)

Wong says labor provided the margin of victory for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And he expects unions will play a significant role this year as well.

I’m Katie Orr in Sacramento.

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