Bernie Sanders earns endorsement of influential California union

Democrat presidential contender and Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) may get no love from The New York Times, but he just earned another potentially significant expression of support.

A professional union for employees of the University of California known as University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) — a chapter of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) — endorsed Sanders as their choice for president over the likes of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Vice President Joe Biden, according to The Hill.

“I’m honored to receive UPTE-CWA 9119’s support today,” Sanders said in response. “The labor movement helped build the middle class in this country, and strong unions are key to reviving it today. As president, I’ll continue to stand on the side of workers and unions like UPTE-CWA 9119 in the fight for a fair and just economy that works for all of us.”

Sanders wins key union endorsement

As candidates scramble to make their closing arguments before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, the Democratic race has become noticeably more vicious. Nowhere has that been more clear than the recent fight between Sanders and Warren over claims that Sanders once said that a woman cannot win the presidency.

The fight ruptured the peace agreement between the two candidates, but it also exposed hostility toward Sanders from the same liberal establishment that supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. Clinton joined the mainstream media pile-on, saying that “nobody likes” Sanders, as the New York Times endorsed both Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Monday.

But Sanders continues to make strong showings in Iowa as well as in national polls, and he has the support of an enthusiastic base. The candidate scored the support this week of a union that represents some 17,000 white-collar workers in the University of California system and which said that Sanders “fought for labor for decades and empowers workers to fight for what is just and deserved.”

“He stands against privatization of education, and as a union that represents nearly 17,000 higher education employees and educators on 13 public university and community college campuses, the fight is a reality for us. It’s time for a candidate who puts people first,” said UPTE-CWA 9119 President Jamie McDole.

Battle for labor support

The endorsement comes as Sanders, a far-left democratic socialist, battles the more establishment-friendly Warren and frontrunner Joe Biden for support from labor interests. Sanders has leaned hard into his economically populist views, highlighting his votes against NAFTA and normalized trade relations with China — both things that frontrunner Biden supported — at the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses.

“Joe and I have a fundamental disagreement, in case you haven‘t noticed,” he said, according to National Review. “NAFTA, PNTR with China, other trade agreements were written for one reason alone, and that is to increase the profits of large, multi-national corporations.”

Echoing a view that is popular with urban, liberal elites, Biden has said that displaced coal miners should be retrained as computer programmers, according to Fox, and he invited additional criticism when he said that he would sacrifice hundreds of thousands of blue-collar jobs to stop climate change. But the former VP nevertheless won an endorsement this week from a national steel union, The International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, according to CNBC.

On a roll

The UPTE endorsement marks a boost for Sanders in the Super Tuesday state, which will hold its primary on March 3. A new California poll found that Sanders was leading Biden by four points in the state.

Sanders also won support from the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents 10,000 workers in New Hampshire, also an early primary state. But even President Trump has suggested that Sanders is on the losing end of a “rigged” primary, as the knives continue to come out for the senator from Vermont.

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