By Christina Suttles
Beaver County Times
Aug 26, 2019 – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders nabbed a presidential endorsement from the Pittsburgh-based United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America on Monday, following a speech at the union’s convention.
PITTSBURGH — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders nabbed a presidential endorsement from the Pittsburgh-based United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America on Monday, following a speech at the union’s convention.
Sanders is the second 2020 Democratic candidate publicly supported by a national labor union; the International Association of Fire Fighters endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden earlier this year.
During his speech at downtown Pittsburgh’s Wyndham Grand Hotel, Sanders told hundreds of local workers his plans to protect middle-class families and tackle corporate greed.
“We can have a nation where all of our people live with security and dignity,” he said. “We can have a nation which does not have a huge gap between the very rich and everybody else, where income and wealth inequality is growing …”
Union leadership said Sanders has been a longtime supporter of workplace actions, including a nine-day strike in Erie earlier this year involving 1,700 locomotive plant workers.
“Bernie understands the need for workers to have a democratic, independent union movement that is unafraid to challenge corporate America’s stranglehold on our economy,” said UE General President Peter Knowlton a statement. The union also supports Sanders’ plans to expand organized labor, end right-to-work laws and implement “Medicare for All.”
The UE represents about 35,000 workers across a variety of sectors, including Beaver County residents working throughout the state, a spokesperson for UE said. Other unions with ties to the region have yet to endorse a candidate.
“It’s got to mean something in a labor-heavy county like Beaver,” said Greg Harmon, a building contractor from Beaver Falls. “We have a lot of union voters here.”
It’s unclear if the endorsement will boost local support for Sanders; President Donald Trump’s focus on blue-collar workers helped him win Beaver County by more than 18 percentage points in 2016 — although he won Pennsylvania by fewer than 43,000 votes.
Recent campaign finance reports also indicate Sanders has more unique Pittsburgh-area donors than other Democratic candidates.
“Our fight is about the need for an economy that works for all Americans and not just the one percent,” Sanders said about the endorsement. “And we are going to win that fight together.”