By JESSE J. HOLLAND
The Associated Press
Monday, September 24, 2007; 4:53 PM
WASHINGTON -- The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers endorsed Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton for president Monday, saying she had the best chance to win.
"Hillary Clinton has the strength and experience to deliver the change America needs," union president John J. Flynn said. "After years of an administration that has turned its back on working families, we need a president whose priorities are our priorities."
Flynn said the union's executive council voted unanimously to endorse Clinton and that the New York senator was the clear winner in a poll of members.
Clinton said she was honored.
"In my administration, America's working families will again have a partner in the White House," she said.
Founded in 1865, the bricklayers say they are the oldest continuous union in North America and that they represent about 100,000 skilled masonry-trowel tradescraft workers.
This is Clinton's fifth union endorsement, the most of any presidential candidate so far.
Meanwhile, one of the largest municipal jail unions in the country said Monday it would endorse Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois for president. The endorsement would be Obama's first from a union.
"Barack Obama is the one candidate who will put an end to the divisiveness in this country so that we can finally achieve greater economic prosperity for the working class and health care coverage for all Americans," said Norman Seabrook, president of the New York City Correction Officers' Benevolent Association.
The group has about 9,000 active members.
Obama said, "It's an honor to have the endorsement of these men and women who put themselves at risk every day to serve on the front lines of our nation's criminal justice system."
Obama also offered support to the striking United Auto Workers, who walked off the job at General Motors plants around the country Monday. This is the first nationwide strike against the U.S. auto industry since 1976.
"The demands the union is fighting for _ job security, the health benefits they were promised _ are things that all workers should expect and that UAW members deserve," Obama said in a statement. "General Motors owes it to the UAW to come back to the bargaining table so that union members can go back to work."
At a Capitol Hill news conference, Clinton said the Bush administration has neglected the needs of the auto industry. "There is a role for presidential leadership," she said, adding that the leaders of the Big Three automakers had for years sought a meeting with the White House.
"They were rebuffed repeatedly. Finally there was a meeting that occurred with no follow-up," said Clinton.
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards also blamed the White House for the problems that led to the strike. "Sadly, the issues on the bargaining table between General Motors and the United Auto Workers are not unique to Detroit _ they represent the larger failures of Washington and public policies that have weakened unions and the middle class," Edwards said.
On the Net:
Bricklayers union: http://www.bacweb.org/
Corrections officers union: http://www.cobanyc.org/