[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/04/art.obamacap.ap.jpg caption="The AFL-CIO endorsed Obama Thursday."]
(CNN)—The AFL-CIO endorsed Sen. Barack Obama Thursday, kicking one of the broadest grassroots mobilizations in recent history into “high gear.”
“In so many ways―on jobs, health care, gas prices and the war in Iraq―our country is headed in the wrong direction,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a statement announcing the endorsement. “Barack Obama has proven from his days as an organizer, to his time in the Senate and his historic run for the presidency, that he’s leading the fight to turn around America."
The endorsement is expected to help rally support around the presumptive Democratic nominee 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.
With an outreach of more than 13 million registered voters in 24 ‘top-tier’ states, the AFL-CIO will send volunteers to the homes of 300,000 union voters, with the 56 member-unions collectively spending more than $200 million in the 2008 election between the presidential, Senate, and House races nationwide.
“We’ll work our hearts out for Barack Obama,” said AFSCME President and AFL-CIO Political Committee Chair Gerald McEntee. “Our program is going to be worker to worker and neighbor to neighbor. We’re ready to mobilize. We’re ready to rock and roll. This country and our people are ready for change.”
The group has been running an active 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. Currently, AFL-CIO volunteers have knocked on 60,000 doors and distributed 1.5 million flyers critical of the Arizona senator’s economic record.