WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton and her Democratic presidential rivals are holding private meetings with labor leaders in hopes of landing union endorsements that would bring organizational muscle and money to their 2016 campaigns.
Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley met Monday with board members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders met the public service workers union Tuesday.
The three Democratic contenders have held similar meetings during the past week with the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers union. The candidates are vying for support as union workers seek higher wages, stronger collective bargaining protections and remedies to address disparities between the wealthy and the poor.
Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, holds the inside track on the union endorsements. AFSCME was the first major union to endorse her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in 1992 and supported her primary bid in 2008 over Barack Obama.
The teachers federation supported Hillary Clinton's primary campaign in 2008 and is led by Randi Weingarten, a longtime Clinton ally. The National Education Association, the nation's largest union, stayed on the sidelines for the 2008 primaries before endorsing Obama in the general election.
Hillary Clinton called into a Detroit meeting organized by the Service Employees International Union on Sunday to promote a higher minimum wage. Clinton did not explicitly endorse a $15 an hour minimum, which O'Malley and Sanders support. She said every worker "deserves a fair wage and a real voice on the job."
Lee Saunders, AFSCME's president, says his union is looking for a president who will "improve incomes, strengthen the middle class and reform government so that it works for all Americans, not just wealthy special interests."
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