In the latest lift for Congressman Keith Ellison's effort to become next chair of the Democratic National Committee, the AFL-CIO on Thursday issued its official endorsement for the progressive lawmaker.
Federation president Richard Trumka said that after meeting with several candidates seeking its endorsement, the AFL-CIO's executive committee determined Ellison is the best individual to address the needs of its members and their families.
"America’s workers do best when they get organized. The right-wing knows this too. That’s why it's spent years rolling back labor protections, lowering wages, and making it harder to join a union."
—Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)"Representative Ellison meets the high standard working people expect from leaders of our political parties," Trumka said in a statement. "He is a proven leader who will focus on year-round grassroots organizing to deliver for working families across America. Under his leadership, the Democratic Party will embody the values that our members stand for every day."
The AFL-CIO is the nation's largest union federation, representing approximately 12.5 million members.
Following the stunning loss of Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump in this year's presidential election, much has been said about how the establishment wing of the Democratic Party—epitomized by former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz—failed to acknowledge, or adequately address, the needs of working class voters.
Ellison welcomed the endorsement.
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"There simply is no stronger voice for working people than the AFL-CIO, which represents 12 million workers in every section of our country," Ellison said in response. "I am proud to have their endorsement for DNC Chair. For decades, they have organized and won higher wages, safer working conditions and the right to a seat at the table to bargain collectively. They believe, as I do, that America’s workers do best when they get organized. The right-wing knows this too. That’s why it's spent years rolling back labor protections, lowering wages, and making it harder to join a union. The AFL-CIO knows the challenges facing America’s working families and how to speak to working Americans of all colors, genders, and backgrounds. I am proud to be on their side and I am even prouder that the AFL-CIO is on mine. Workers will be central to the Democratic Party.”
For his part, Ellison, currently co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and an early backer of Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary, has said he wants to get the DNC back to core values centered around working people and social and economic justice by offering bold initiatives to combat corporate greed, achieve full employment, and address climate change.
"With his stellar record in Congress, which includes an uncompromised commitment to working people, and challenging corporate interests, Keith would be an outstanding leader who lead the shift the Democratic Party needs."
—Roseann Demoro, National Nurses UnitedThe AFL-CIO is not alone among organized labor forces backing Ellison.
"Keith Ellison is a fierce fighter for all working people and our families," said Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, in a recent statement. "His track record as an organizer and a Congressman shows it. Americans must trust that Democrats are on their side if we hope to take back White House and Congress. Keith knows what it takes to build that trust and strengthen the party infrastructure in all our communities throughout this country."
Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, described Ellison as "a principled progressive, a shrewd strategist and one of the nation’s most tenacious fighters for working families."
And in her recent comments on his behalf, RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, said that Ellison would represent exactly the kind of leadership the DNC has lacked in recent years. "With his stellar record in Congress, which includes an uncompromised commitment to working people, and challenging corporate interests," said Demoro, "Keith would be an outstanding leader who lead the shift the Democratic Party needs."