Unions falter in support of Democrats, Hagan

Posted by Caitlin Owens on March 19, 2014 

Although Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s reelection bid received an endorsement from the state AFL-CIO, some unions have expressed frustration nationally with Democrats and Hagan in particular.

“There’s no doubt that Senator Kay Hagan is, in my opinion, a conservative Democrat – a business-friendly Democrat – but at the same time, understands the broad needs of workers and working people,” siad James Andrews, the state AFL-CIO president. Hagan received a two-thirds vote from the AFL-CIO board to earn an endorsement, something not all Democratic candidates achieve.

Parts of the labor coalition are frustrated with the Obama administration over the federal health care law and the delayed approval of the Keystone oil pipeline, making them reluctant to help Democrats in their efforts to retain their Senate majority, The Hill reported.

In a speech Monday, Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said Hagan and Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, would not receive the support of the AIFF in their reelection races this year, The Hill reported. The firefighters’ frustration stems from a 2010 Senate bill that would have expanded collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers. The bill did not move forward, and Hagan and Warner voted against it.

Schaitberger called Hagan “one of our great double-crossers” and said she would not get “one ounce of support” from the union.

Keith Wilder, president of the Raleigh Professional Firefighters Association, said he would not support Hagan in her bid for reelection.

“Too much money and too much time thrown away - no we will not,” he said. He said the association is holding her accountable for her lack of support.

On the other hand, Andrews praised Hagan’s position on some issues, including health care.

“Regardless of what the other side says, Kay Hagan absolutely took the right position on the Affordable Care Act,” he said.

Unions have historically favored Democratic candidates and are influential to voter turnout. However, Andrews said the AFL-CIO does not belong to either party.

“We’re not the Democratic party or the Republican party, he said. “Neither party’s going to save us, at the end of the day.”

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