Politics

Iowa labor leaders call for unions to endorse Sanders

'We need a voice of our own, not an echo of the Republicans'

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at the Hawkeye Labor Council AFL-CIO Steak Fry in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, June 13, 2015. Sanders is seeking the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at the Hawkeye Labor Council AFL-CIO Steak Fry in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, June 13, 2015. Sanders is seeking the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Fourteen Iowa labor leaders are among more than 1,000 nationwide calling on unions to support 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

“I’m not often impressed with a candidate, but Sanders seems very genuine,” said Steve Abbott, president of CWA Local 7108 in Waterloo and head of the CWA’s Iowa state council.

“From my perspective, and I always listen to all of the candidates and have been close to many candidates over the years, what Bernie says is the truth,” said Abbott, who has been working on campaigns since 1980.

So he’s joined other labor leaders embracing Sanders as the only declared candidate, in either major party, “who challenges the billionaires who are trying to steal our pensions, our jobs, our homes, and what’s left of our democracy,” according to their statement at www.LaborforBernie.org.

“We need a presidential candidate willing to confront big money and its corrupting influence on American politics,” Abbott said. “That kind of leadership is not going to come from someone trying to raise a billion dollars from Wall Street banks and other business interests. We need a voice of our own, not an echo of the Republicans.”

Abbott expects a resolution along the lines of one approved by the South Carolina AFL-CIO executive board supporting Sanders and recommending his endorsement by the national labor organization will be approved at the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO annual convention in August. Sanders, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Hillary Clinton, former Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Rhode Island senator and governor Lincoln Chaffee have been invited to speak, according to the Federation.

In addition to Abbott, other Iowa labor union members recommending union support for Sanders include:

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Mark Kane, AFGE Local 15, davenport; Josh Miller, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 33, Ames; Jack Steel, Teamers Local 238, Bondurant; Cory Bruggenwirth, Carpenters Local 678, Clinton; Tracy Hatfield, IBEW Local 55.10, Muscatine; Austin Panozza, UAW Local 281, Davenport; Tim Flynn, Ironworkers, Local 512, Decorah; Dennis Myers, UAW Local 05, Sperry; Kevin Cook, UAW Local 411, Oelwein; Gary Osland, UFCW, Laurel; Jennifer Marsh, United Electrical Workers, Iowa City; and Kim Abbott, UTU Local 577, Clinton.

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