At its September 22-23 meeting at the union's national headquarters in Pittsburgh, UE's General Executive Board discussed and adopted the following statement on the 2016 presidential election.
UE General Executive Board Statement on the 2016 Presidential Election
The 2016 elections have made it clear that the current political system is not serving the needs of American working people. The establishment of an independent political movement for the working class is needed more than ever. However, we face the cold reality that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be elected President in November and working people need to make a decision how to best survive the coming period.
UE embraced the candidacy of Bernie Sanders for President. His campaign was straight out of UE policy on everything from workers’ rights, to racial and economic justice, to climate change, to the war on Iraq. We had not seen a candidate like him in decades. It was shameful that some major unions endorsed Hillary Clinton, despite her representing the worst corporate tendencies of the Democratic Party. Arguably this backing of Clinton kept Sanders from winning the Democratic nomination and deprived working people of a candidate that they could have enthusiastically supported.
Whatever Clinton’s shortcomings, Donald Trump cannot be seen as anything other than a sworn enemy of working people and their unions, with his statement that “wages are too high” and his support for “right-to-work” legislation. His appeals to racism and sexism, his attacks on immigrants and Muslims, and his incitement of violence make him the gravest danger to democracy and progress for working people in the U.S. in generations. Given the age of the current Supreme Court justices, Trump will be able to leave a long-lasting anti-worker stranglehold on the U.S. legal system.
Over the 80 years of UE’s history, the national union has made only seven endorsements of presidential candidates, the most recent being Bernie Sanders. This board is not making an endorsement in the 2016 presidential general election. Neither of the two major candidates has earned our endorsement. But because of the extreme danger posed by Trump, as well as the need to decisively reject campaigns based on hatred and division, we recommend as a tactical approach that our members go to the polls and vote for Clinton.
We say this knowing full well that from day one of a Clinton administration we will need to mobilize our members to defend their interests and attempt to ensure that she upholds the positions that the Sanders campaign forced her to adopt. But with a Trump presidency, rather than fighting for advancements, we would be entirely on defense with strong prospects that we would face a Wisconsin-style liquidation of the labor movement and all of the gains that it has won.
Following the election, we must build upon the successes of the Sanders candidacy and construct a permanent political formation of those prepared to challenge corporate power in this country. In the coming period we will need both to work within the existing political system to protect the immediate interests of working people while working to create a broad united front outside the current power structure that will enable us to no longer be confronted with such limited political choices.
Adopted by the GEB, September 23, 2016, Pittsburgh, PA