Reprinted from The Nation
Samuel Gompers, the immigrant cigar maker who led the American Federation of Labor from the 1880s to the 1920s, argued that the purpose of political action by trade unionists was to "reward our friends and punish our enemies."
Unions have [been] divided with regard to the Democratic presidential race, as have environmental groups and other organizations that frequently support the party and its candidates. Front-runner Hillary Clinton has attracted a number of major national endorsements, from the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Sanders has the support of National Nurses United, the activist union that has been in the forefront of the fight for single-payer healthcare, along with endorsements from union locals in key states -- such as International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union 490 and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 560 in New Hampshire. And now he has the 200,000-member postal worker's union.
The APWU endorsement recalls the historic "reward our friends" calculus, as Sanders has for years been an ardent congressional advocate for postal workers and the United States Postal Service. Long before he considered presidential politics, the senator from Vermont was arguing against the austerity economics that seeks to balance the books by cutting public services. An ardent foe of privatization, he as well has championed the expansion of its mission, backing innovative initiatives such as postal banking.
"We should judge candidates not by their political party, not by what they say, not by what we think they stand for, but by what they do," argues APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "Applying that criterion, Senator Bernie Sanders stands above all others as a true champion of postal workers and other workers throughout the country."