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Senator Clinton Meets With Board Of Influential Labor Union January 29, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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NEW YORK (AP)–White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton met privately Monday with the board of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, a 1.3 million-member labor group whose support will be critical to any Democratic candidate.

Clinton, who made her first presidential campaign swing through Iowa this past weekend, traveled to Naples, Fla., to address the annual board meeting of the union. UFCW spokeswoman Jill Cashen said the New York senator had been invited to speak on issues affecting the union, such as health care, immigration and boosting the minimum wage.

“We certainly appreciate her leadership on those issues,” Cashen said, adding that other 2008 presidential contenders would be invited to address the UFCW board throughout the year. Cashen declined to say whether the union intends to endorse a candidate.

The meeting was closed to the media.

The UFCW, which represents retail and grocery workers, is the chief backer of Wake Up Wal-Mart, an organization formed to pressure that company to boost wages and benefits for its workers. Clinton served on Wal-Mart’s (WMT) board from 1986 to 1992 but has since become a critic of the retail giant’s business practices.

With organized labor poised to play an influential role in the Democratic primary, candidates have been actively wooing union support. On Friday, Clinton and several other presidential hopefuls, including Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, addressed a closed board meeting of the Service Employees International Union in Washington.

SEIU will require presidential candidates seeking the union’s endorsement to spend time working alongside union members to understand their lives and concerns. SEIU President Andy Stern personally inaugurated the “Walk a Day in My Shoes” campaign Monday in Iowa, working alongside union members there and eating dinner in their homes.

He was set to do the same Wednesday in New Hampshire, another key early voting state.

UFCW and SEIU are two of seven major unions that broke from the AFL-CIO in 2005 over internal disagreements on how best to build organized labor’s membership and political clout. The unions have since formed a new political coalition – Change to Win.

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