- Washington Free Beacon - http://freebeacon.com -

Hillary Pledges Support for Union Agenda

Hillary Clinton embraced many of the issues pushed by labor unions on Wednesday in an attempt to woo supporters of insurgent socialist Bernie Sanders.

Clinton called labor unions the "bedrock of a middle class" and pledged to strengthen their negotiating position if elected president at a campaign rally in North Carolina.

"We should strengthen unions that have formed the bedrock of a strong middle class. It should be easier to bargain collectively," she said. "That's not only fair, it makes workers more productive and strengthens our economy."

Clinton delivered the remarks in a speech about the economy. She went beyond merely pledging support for unions and backed specific elements of the union agenda over the course of a 45 minute address. She pledged to hike the minimum wage, back stronger scheduling regulations, and punish companies that move their headquarters overseas.

Clinton made overtures to labor unions throughout the campaign as she found herself pulled to the left by Sanders. She backed a $12 minimum wage, saying Democrats need to be more forceful about addressing the needs of low-wage workers. Lawmakers have had more success hiking minimum wages at the state and local levels—California, New York State, and Washington, D.C. have all adopted $15 wage floors—than at the federal level, where the minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour.

"I know, too, we have work to do to stand with those who are fighting for raising the minimum wage," she said.

She voiced support for regulations that would punish companies if they do not give part-time workers their schedules weeks in advance. That proposal mirrors an initiative passed in San Francisco that has prompted companies to hire fewer part-time workers.

"Many people now have wildly unpredictable schedules or cobble together part-time work or try to go independent. Flexibility can be good but you shouldn't have to worry your family will lose your health care other retirement savings," she said to chants of "Hillary" from the crowd.

Clinton also endorsed punitive measures against companies that move their corporate headquarters overseas to cut down on their tax burden—a common complaint from labor activists.

"It is wrong to take tax dollars in one hand and give out pink slips with the other hand. no company should be moving their headquarters overseas just to avoid paying their taxes here at home," she said.

Clinton has won major labor endorsements in recent weeks, including from the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest private sector union. She still faces an uphill climb in securing the support of members. The former secretary of state has won endorsements from major liberal groups when its management voted, while losing endorsements to Sanders when the membership voted, according to a January analysis from The Intercept.

"Every major union or progressive organization that let its members have a vote endorsed Bernie Sanders," the report said. "It’s perhaps the clearest example yet of Clinton’s powerful appeal to the Democratic Party’s elite, even as support for Sanders explodes among the rank and file."