Election 2008

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Union Influence Grows in Democratic Race

April 10, 2008 04:48 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A long primary season and an intensifying debate on free trade are giving labor unions greater clout as the Pennsylvania primary approaches.

30-Second Summary

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To the Democratic candidates, the endorsement of a union is more than good publicity. It brings with it the promise of organizational and financial support.

As the April 22 primary in labor-rich Pennsylvania approaches, unions have become more vocal in their opposition to international trade agreements.

Citing free trade pacts such as NAFTA and the U.S.-Colombia agreement as culprits in the loss of American jobs to foreign workforces, these unions have begun to publicly pressure the candidates to oppose such trade policies.

Though not yet approved by Congress, the Colombia pact has become a focal point for debate after President Bush presented it for a vote and it was revealed that a member of Hillary Clinton’s staff had lobbied on its behalf in an outside role.

After The Wall Street Journal reported that Clinton’s Chief Strategist Mark Penn had been advocating the Colombia pact in his role as CEO of a lobbying and public relations firm, union leaders endorsing both candidates demanded that Clinton remove Penn from her campaign.

Headline Links: Endorsements and donations increasingly important

Background: Unions and the campaigns

History: Labor’s influence

Opinion & Analysis: Should Democrats support free trade?

Key Players: Clinton, Obama, Hoffa

Reference: Union campaign contributions, the candidates on free trade

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