Little bit of bad news for Hillary Clinton. The Huffington Post reports that the AFL-CIO, the nation’s most powerful federation of labor unions, will not be making an endorsement in the race between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, at least any time soon: 

The biggest prize in labor endorsements won’t be doled out next week as many people expected, according to an email from the president of the AFL-CIO labor federation obtained by The Huffington Post.

In his email, Richard Trumka told members of the AFL-CIO executive council that the body won’t be holding a vote on whether to endorse Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders at its annual winter meeting in San Diego.

“Following recent discussion at the AFL-CIO’s Executive Committee meeting and subsequent conversations with many of you, I have concluded that there is broad consensus for the AFL-CIO to remain neutral in the presidential primaries for the time being and refrain from endorsing any candidate at this moment,” Trumka said.

The decision is a coup for Sanders’ backers within organized labor. Clinton has managed to lock down endorsements from unions representing a majority of unionized workers in this country. But the AFL-CIO endorsement is the most potent of all, and it won’t be going to Clinton — at least, not yet.

One of the Clinton’s biggest advantages over Sanders is the institutional support of many organized interest groups. Lots of Democratic base voters like both Clinton and Sanders but will tend to vote in solidarity with groups they trust. That’s why  something like the Congressional Black Caucus endorsement for Clinton matters, even as some leading black intellectuals have thrown their weight behind Sanders. And it’s why Clinton’s success in getting the backing of many unions matters. Clinton has gotten endorsements from 18 unions, including a couple of the biggest — the Service Employees International Union and the National Education Association —  compared to three for Sanders. 

Sanders, of course, has energized liberals by putting inequality and labor issues front and center in his campaign. But rank and file Democratic voters may pay as much attention to the leaders and organizations they trust as to the applause lines in each candidates’ speeches. 

An official from one of the unions backing Sanders, National Nurses United, told HuffPo that they’re “extremely happy” about AFL-CIO’s decision to remain neutral. 


The AFL-CIO is expected to back the Democrat in the general election.