Unions To Delay Supporting A Candidate

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 8, 2007

Leaders of the AFL-CIO pledged yesterday to consult more widely with workers before making a decision about endorsing a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination and strongly urged individual unions not to back any candidate until later in the fall.

The go-slow approach appeared to be a response to the unsuccessful record of labor groups in the last presidential race. Key service-employee unions endorsed former Vermont governor Howard Dean and key industrial unions backed then-Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), but both collapsed in the Iowa caucuses.

The main competition for labor support appears to be among Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), former senator John Edwards (N.C.) and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.).

"Edwards and Obama are getting the most chatter," said a Democrat with close ties to labor who asked not to be identified to handicap the competition. "But Clinton has really started working it hard with a lot of one-on-one meetings and checking in with people."

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, outlined the evaluation process at a news conference in Las Vegas.

"The breadth and depth of our effort to engage union members and their families in the 2008 presidential endorsement process will be unparalleled," Sweeney said.

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