Published on March 31st, 2016 | by Reporters Desk0
ILWU Endorses Bernie
Bernie Gets ILWU Endorsement, Landslide Wins in Three States
ILWU President Robert McEllrath stands side-by-side with Sen. Bernie Sanders, March 24, after the union’s executive board endorsement of Sanders for president. Photo courtesy of the ILWU
By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
Leadership followed rank-and-file on March 24, when the International ILWU executive board endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders as their candidate for president in the upcoming election. With an online ILWU rank-and-file for Bernie Sanders movement, Sanders’ primary wins in Washington, Hawaii and Alaska by wide margins seems to reflect that fact.
He won at least 71 percent of the vote in each state, including 82 percent in Alaska.
“Bernie Sanders is the best candidate for America’s working families,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath.
“Bernie is best on the issues that matter most to American workers: better trade agreements, support for unions, fair wages, tuition for students and public colleges, Medicare for all, fighting a corrupt campaign finance system and confronting the power of Wall Street that’s making life harder for most Americans.”
“The reason we are doing well is because we are talking about the real issues facing America and we’re telling the truth,” said Sanders in a victory speech in Wisconsin.
The union represents roughly 50,000 workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.
Craig Merrilees, an ILWU spokesman, noted that the rank-and-file backing for Sanders is clear.
“The support was significant at the grassroots level,” Merrilees said. “Many local bodies throughout the union had already recommended endorsements.”
Caney Arnold, one of the administrators of L.A. South Bay for Bernie and L.A. Harbor for Bernie Facebook pages echoed Merrilees.
“As opposed to many other labor unions making decisions on their own, the ILWU-local and national are listening to their members and the members know who they can count on. They know they can count on Bernie.”
Arnold’s Facebook pages has been the face of the local grass roots support for Sander’s campaign and has been on a mission of pushing forward the ideas encapsulated in Sander’s campaign, such as combating income and wealth inequality and getting big money out of politics.
Ray Cordova of the Communications Workers of America believes Sanders can take California and New York from Clinton.
“That endorsement was big potatoes,” Cordova said. “A lot of people are talking about Clinton locking up all of the super delegates. In the entire time we’ve had elections, I don’t care what they say, they have never made a difference in an election and I don’t see that happening now. There are two places in play right now: California and New York. She [Clinton] may not get it.”
Cordova went on to say that Clinton’s connection to the [Bill Clinton] administration’s North American Free Trade Agreement and the jobs it cost as one significant reason labor is siding with Sanders.
Cordova doesn’t expect too many labor leaders campaigning against Clinton as much as simply campaigning for Sanders.
Cordova noted that it wasn’t the ILWU that was first to endorse Sanders, but rather the Los Angeles County Federation.
“We endorsed Sanders a longtime ago,” Cordova said. “I think most of labor will stay on the sidelines. I don’t see them jumping on either side, which I think is fair enough.”
The ILWU is the fifth major union to endorse Sanders, following the Amalgamated Transit Union, which declared its backing for him the week prior. Sanders’ strong support for single-payer healthcare earned him a strong early endorsement from National Nurses United, whose precursor, the California Nurses Association was central in thwarting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s anti-union agenda a decade ago. More than 20 unions, however, have lined up behind Clinton, including the Teamsters, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Laborers’ International Union of North America.