July 17th, 2007
01:24 PM ET
12 years ago

AFL-CIO set to begin presidential endorsement process

Seven Democratic presidential candidates are slated to attend the AFL-CIO forum next August.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The AFL-CIO is set to formally kick of its presidential endorsement process with a candidate forum in Chicago next month, the nation’s largest organization of union members announced Tuesday.

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, and Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico are all slated to attend the August 7 forum and will face questions from a audience estimated to top over 5,000 union members.

AFL-CIO spokesman Steve Smith said all the presidential candidates, Democrats and Republicans, were invited to fill out a questionnaire - one of the factors that ultimately determined which candidates were invited to the event.

“Thousands of union members in Chicago and millions of working families around the country will hear exactly how these candidates, after eight years of anti-worker policies, plan to return the promise of the American dream to working people," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a statement.

Following the forum, the AFL-CIO’s executive council will meet to decide whether to formally endorse a candidate in the primary race. According to the organization’s rules, if the council decides to make an endorsement, two-thirds of the individual union’s comprising the AFL-CIO must agree on a particular candidate for it to be made official. If no agreement is reached, individual unions are free to make their own endorsements during the primary race.

The AFL-CIO represents nearly $10 million workers in 55 unions and says it mobilized “more than 13.6 million voters in 32 states” during the 2006 election cycle.

UPDATE: Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, the one Democratic White House hopeful not invited to the event, admitted to CNN Tuesday he missed the questionnaire deadline, but says it was not sufficiently clear that the questionnaire was one of the criteria for admittance into the forum.

“It’s our mistake, but they are using our mistake to deny me an appearance before the AFL-CIO group and I had a 100% voting record for twelve years as senator and four years in the state legislature,” Gravel said. “The AFL-CIO has no memory.”

Gravel also said he will promptly submit the questionnaire and hopes to be included.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Tim

    $10 million workers. The mistake says it all.

    July 17, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. don

    whoopedy doo. the worst thing for any economy are unions. they make sure people can't get jobs while lining their own pockets with unions fees.

    I would pay not to have them endorse me given they would ruin our economy.

    July 17, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Notmyvote

    Lets talk about the corruption of organizated business and pandering politicians again.., hey Hill/Obama.
    You can't have it both ways.

    July 17, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Bruce, Franklin TN

    The candidates might as well go to a Mob convention.

    Unions are a big part of the reason we're non-competitive in the global marketplace. They take the initiative out of working hard to get ahead. They may have served a useful purpose 100 years ago, but they're an impediment to our economy now. I wish the Democrats would quit pandering to them and instead try to appeal to the real working class of middle America.
    Ronald Reagan somehow managed to reach these people by appealing to their common sense instincts without pandering to them...can someone else duplicate that feat?

    July 17, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  5. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    You mean Hillary didn't get to force anyone off the stage? She ought to be right at home with the Union mob. They think alike.

    July 17, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. JM Tampa FL

    Let Gravel debate! He actually says something different than the rest of the corporate-backed bunch.

    July 17, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I'm rather vote for a party that embraces AMERICAN labor and 10 million working-class citizens...than the GOP which is aligned with big oil, the military-industrial complex and Haliburton.

    All this union-bashing is the right wing attempt to squash the rights of workers and keep wages even lower.

    Quit blaming the workers and maybe think about some of the real reasons why American businesses are not as competitive as German or Japanese industries. It has nothing to do with unions.

    July 17, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    I can understand how Sen Gavel would have made the mistake of thinking the survey was apart of the admittance process. I would have thought the only requirement was being apart of the Democratic Party? Guess the unions are getting REAL picky now who they endorse!

    By the way... Has the AFL-CIO *EVER* endorsed a republican???

    July 17, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  9. Don Anhorn, Eugene,OR

    I considered myself a Democrat since voting for Adlai Stevenson in 1956. But I am now an Independent. I will not vote for anyone who spports Amnesty(citizenship) for the 20,000,000 + illegals. We are long overdue in establishing NEGATIVE POPULATION GROWTH so we do not grow due to immigration. We have double the population we should have for quality living & sustainability.

    July 17, 2007 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  10. Walter Stewart, Sunnyvale, CA

    I couldn't believe someone actually wrote this –

    "Quit blaming the workers and maybe think about some of the real reasons why American businesses are not as competitive as German or Japanese industries. It has nothing to do with unions."

    Talk about being in denial. Unions were a wonderful thing in American history when they first started up. Now it is all about power. They have since become bloated, unbalanced organizations that have all but destroyed the American Auto and auto pars industry as well as the pilots and airlines industry and others. There is not one economics professor in any university that would back up such a blinded, union rah-rah statement.

    July 18, 2007 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  11. Tom W - Dedham, Mass

    "I’m rather vote for a party that embraces AMERICAN labor and 10 million working-class citizens"

    With the exception being this moronic President, it is your party that supports ILLEGAL immigrants that guess what, bring down the wages of working class citizens.

    Unions paved the way for many of the benefits that we all share in today and they should be applauded for the previous efforts that made this country great.

    However, people should have every right to be be bull about being forced to pay union dues that go to ONE party whether the union member likes it or not.

    Being brainwashed to vote for one candidate or one party is frankly un-american and unfortunately this cabal has become just that.

    My brothers who work in a trade union agree with me on just about every social issue imaginable, but they vote Democratic because the union tells them too.

    July 18, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. Damian J. Martinez, Newark, New Jersey

    As a citizen, registered voter, and proponent of equal rights, I want to hear each candidate's position, including Mike Gravel. Many who are running for president are, depending on your perspective, legitimate candidates whose message resonates with many diverse individuals across the country. It cannot be said that there is a direct correlation between financial contributions and the likelihood of winning the presidency, but what can be said is that, unfortunately, those who do not "raise" significant amounts of money are deemed not legitimate, serious candidates. The fact that Mike Gravel is not part of the existing political machine, is not a victim of "political speak," and clearly conveys his points (in the unequal allotted amount of time), is not only impressive and admirable, but also a danger to large-pocket contributors who too often further their own agendas through large financial contributions. The sad part—of which there are many—is that the public is rarely offered a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes.

    July 20, 2007 12:49 am at 12:49 am |