Postal Goes Sanders

Union endorses Bernie, snubs Hillary

• November 12, 2015 5:15 pm


Insurgent socialist presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders scored a coveted endorsement from one of the largest public sector unions in the country on Thursday.

The American Postal Workers Union announced that it would endorse the Vermont senator over frontrunner Hillary Clinton after its executive council voted. Union president Mark Dimondstein said that "it’s time for a political revolution" and that Sanders was the candidate best-suited to carry that banner.

"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," Dimondstein said in a release. "Sen. Bernie Sanders stands above all others as a true champion of postal workers and other workers throughout the country. He doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk."

The union cited Sanders’ well-received speech to more than 2,000 postal workers in October in which he criticized efforts to close local post offices. The service posted a $5.5 billion loss in 2014.

"The Postal Service is under constant and vicious attack … the Postal Service is not going broke," he said, according to a union transcript of the event. "The wealthy and the powerful see an opportunity for Wall Street and corporate America to make billions in profits out of these services, and couldn't care less how privatization or a degradation of services affects ordinary Americans. That is unacceptable and we cannot let them get away with that."

Dimonstein called Sanders’ performance "electric" in October. He praised the Vermont senator for "exposing the rule of the billionaire class," as well as for his refusal to create a Super PAC.

"Bernie Sanders is a fierce advocate of postal reform. He staunchly opposes postal privatization, and supports enhanced postal services, including postal banking," Dimondstein said. "Based on his Senate record, we are confident he will appoint good people to public office and end conflicts of interest. He has already blocked the slate of nominees to the postal Board of Governors that includes the ‘king of postal privatizers’ James Miller and payday lending industry lobbyist Mickey Barnett. No other candidate has his record of exposing the rule of the billionaire class."

The postal workers union is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, which has remained neutral in the Democratic primary thus far. It represents nearly 240,000 mailmen, making it one of the largest industry unions in the country. The group collected about $110 million in 2014, according to its most recent federal labor filings.

However, the union is not as politically active as other labor organizations of its size. It spent only $1.2 million on political activities and lobbying last year and donated about $4 million to Democratic candidates and liberal groups in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The endorsement dealt a blow to Clinton, who has been moving to the left in an effort to win the backing of labor unions. While major Democratic players and politicians have embraced the former secretary of state, politically influential unions, including AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, Service Employees International Union, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, have delayed any endorsement.

Dimondstein said that the choice was easy to make for union leaders after looking at the field’s record, noting several issues, including the minimum wage and the Trans Pacific Partnership, that Clinton has flip-flopped on the campaign trail.

"No other candidate has his record of standing with workers on picket lines, fighting for a $15 per hour minimum wage, supporting free public college tuition, and advocating for veterans’ benefits," Dimondstein said. "No other candidate has his record of fighting to defend and expand Social Security, promoting ‘Medicare for all,’ and opposing ‘fast track trade authority’ and rotten trade deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership."