The 35,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles overwhelmingly voted Thursday to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, citing the need for an "unapologetic, longstanding ally of progressive policies to make public education a priority in the White House."
UTLA, the second-largest teachers union local in the nation, said in a statement announcing the endorsement that 80 percent of its elected leadership voted in favor of supporting Sanders.
"Sanders is the first viable major candidate in 25 years in the Democratic Party to stand up against privatization, the charter billionaires, and high-stakes testing and to stand up for a massive redistribution of wealth to schools and social services," said UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl. "Critically, like UTLA, Sen. Sanders believes in building a national movement for real, lasting change."
Tonight #UTLAStrong House of Reps voted 80% to endorse #BernieSanders, following the most comprehensive member engagement process UTLA ever conducted for a political candidate. Like UTLA, Sanders believes in building a national movement for lasting change. https://t.co/RRG7fhOViR pic.twitter.com/sdERYo5Ffo
— United Teachers Los Angeles (@UTLAnow) November 15, 2019
Teachers have consistently ranked among the most common donors to Sanders' presidential campaign. As the Washington Post reported, "K-12 teachers have donated more money to Sanders than to any of the other Democratic presidential candidates."
UTLA's decision to back Sanders came on the eve of National Nurses United's official endorsement of the Vermont senator, which is scheduled for a press conference in Oakland, California at 4:30 pm PT.
NNU first announced its endorsement of Sanders earlier this week.
"The teachers and nurses unions with the strongest track record of fighting for their students and patients are endorsing Bernie 2020," tweeted environmentalist and author Naomi Klein, who endorsed Sanders last weekend. "Think about that. They know he's a fighter too. This is how we build power."
The two major endorsements came as Sanders headed to California, a critical Super Tuesday state, for a weekend of campaigning.
David Sirota, Sanders' speechwriter, argued Friday that the endorsements from UTLA and NNU—combined with recent polling—show the Vermont senator is "surging" in California.
"Polls, endorsements, and the ground game show that Bernie is poised to win the crucial Golden State," Sirota wrote in the campaign's Bern Notice newsletter. "Bernie's California campaign has already surpassed 8 million attempted voter contacts, held more than 3,000 events, and more than 760,000 people have taken action with the campaign—holding house parties, volunteering at rallies, and making financial contributions."