Federal employee unions, like other labor organizations, generally endorse Democratic candidates.

But that doesn’t stop the unions from seeing red too.

The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) made that point with its recent endorsement Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who is running for reelection. Why? The reason comes down to a basic bread and butter issue. The union credits her with saving jobs for its members.

“Senator Collins has been a steadfast and unapologetic champion for the workers and mission of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. IFPTE and the members of Local 4 will not soon forget her integral role in saving the shipyard from closure at the eleventh hour during the last round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC),” said IFPTE President Gregory Junemann. “Given that many in Congress have joined the administration in calling for yet another round of BRAC, it is obviously essential that she remain in the Senate. After all, she has a successful track record and in-depth knowledge of how to keep Portsmouth safe from a BRAC. IFPTE is pleased to support her candidacy.”

Her  union endorsement isn’t the only one Collins has from organizations generally more likely to support Democrats. In June, Collins, a rare Senate GOP moderate, won the backing of the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group, and the Human Rights Campaign, which supports gay rights. 

Her Democratic opponent is Shenna Bellows, a former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, who recently completed a 350- mile walk across the state, passing  through 63 towns.  “Republicans in Washington brought our economy to the brink of collapse, and the recovery has favored the largest corporations at the expense of our local communities,” Bellows says on her Web site

But unfortunately for Bellows, Collins is not lumped with other congressional Republicans, at least by the union.

“Endorsing Senator Collins was an easy decision for IFPTE to make,” said Matt Biggs, IFPTE’s legislative and political director. “She has been very good to the members of our union.”

The union also is endorsing other Republicans: Reps. Frank A. LoBiondo and Christopher H. Smith both of New Jersey, Rep. Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, and Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania.