The president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) Cecil E. Roberts announced today that his organization is endorsing Barack Obama for president. “He understands and will fight for the needs our members have today and the hopes our members have for a secure future for themselves and their families,” Roberts said.
Roberts also said that the current administration doesn’t respect or value working people, “Most of all, Sen. Obama will implement the clear change in direction UMWA members-indeed, all American working people-must have if they are to once again move forward and have a true opportunity to realize the American dream. After eight years of being pushed aside by an administration which neither respects nor values the contributions American working families make to our society, we are looking forward with great anticipation to a new era in our nation starting with the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.”
“We looked at the positions of both Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) when considering this endorsement,” Roberts said. “On issue after issue, it is clear that Sen. Obama will be on our side while Sen. McCain will not. He cited McCain’s position wanting to privatize Social Security, and his desire to tax the healthcare benefits of union members and retirees.
I am sure that John Edwards deserves some credit for the timing of this endorsement, because he was the UMWA’s original choice, but since John McCain is the same old Republican on union issues, it was only a matter of time before they endorsed Obama.
Private sector unions have declined in influence, but they still have the potential play a critical grassroots role in organizing blue collar voters for Obama. The UMWA’s endorsement is an important step towards consolidating all of the constituencies of the Democratic Party behind Barack Obama.