The Service Employees International Union Local 560 has decided to endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in his bid for president. The local group, based in Hanover, New Hampshire, said Sanders was its clear choice, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
“Bernie Sanders is the most honest man in Washington,” Earl Sweet, president of SEIU Local 560, said in a statement, according to the Union Leader. “There’s no question about what Bernie Sanders believes because he has always meant what he said -- and to many of us in the labor movement, that’s a breath of fresh air.”
The union local represents more than 500 workers in the custodial, dining, energy, hospitality, security and trades industries. Union endorsements are typically important for Democratic candidates, and Sanders has been vying with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton over labor union support in recent months.
Clinton, who leads Sanders with a polling average of 47.8 percent to 25.7 percent according to Real Clear Politics, received the support of the nation’s largest labor union, the National Education Association, earlier this month. In early September, a group of Sanders supporters urged the SEIU executive board to hold off on endorsing any candidate for president because they feared the national union was about to support Clinton. The SEIU executive board has not yet announced an official endorsement.
Some SEIU members are affiliated with a group called Labor for Bernie, and in September, they worried that an endorsement for Clinton from the national organization would force them to limit their activities.
“I’m sure that members and local staffers like myself are not going to be dissuaded from our enthusiasm for Sanders,” Rand Wilson, communications director for SEIU local 888 in Boston, who volunteers for Labor for Bernie, told Politico in September. “The union’s support for another candidate will definitely have an impact on the kinds of roles that we can play at the grass-roots level.”
Another local chapter of the SEIU union, the healthcare workers’ union 1199 SEIU of Manhattan, hosted a Democratic Socialists of America event at its offices Wednesday, where attendees said they were excited to have a Democratic socialist running for office, according to the New York Observer. The union said the event did not constitute an official endorsement.
Sanders is preparing to give a significant speech soon that will explain his Democratic socialism, according to CNN. He began writing the speech this week and plans to give it before the next Democratic debate Nov. 14.