WASHINGTON (CNN)—The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor organization, is poised to throw its support behind Sen. Barack Obama and launch a broad grassroots mobilization effort in support of the Democratic presidential nominee.
Obama’s name is the only one on the ballots which were faxed out Tuesday. The Illinois senator must receive two-thirds of the labor organizations total membership of 10.5 million union workers by the pre-set deadline, Thursday morning.
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s suspension of her presidential bid helped to essentially secure the endorsement for Obama.
According to spokesman Steve Smith, the labor organization stayed neutral during the primary season because a two-thirds majority would have been difficult to attain for any of the candidates given the fact that a number of the unions individually endorsed Obama, Clinton and John Edwards, with one supporting Sen. Chris Dodd.
“Once [Clinton] dropped out it was just a matter of process and getting the votes scheduled to decide on an endorsement,” Smith told CNN, adding that a “very positive” feeling came out of Obama’s meeting last week with all of the union presidents at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington.
“Everyone coming out of that meeting felt very confident and positive about the direction [the AFL-CIO was] headed…and about running a strong and unified labor program,” Smith said.
The group has been running a campaign against presumptive Republican nominee John McCain since early march, aimed at defining the Arizona senator’s stances on jobs, trade and health care among union members.
The endorsement could help Obama in the critical swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota where union voters make up between 25 and 35 percent of the total vote and particularly among working blue-collar voters which Obama has struggled to gain support from so far.
With an outreach of more than 13 million registered voters in 23 ‘top-tier’ states, the AFL-CIO is budgeted to spend $53.4 million via mailers, phone calls, door to door and work site visits and has not yet ruled out television advertisements. Collectively, the 56 unions expect to spend $200 million in the 2008 election between, Presidential, Senate and House races nationwide.