Bernie Sanders won one of the most significant endorsements of his presidential campaign on Thursday when Communications Workers of America, the largest communications and media labor union in the country, announced its support of the Vermont senator’s White House bid. Sanders’s growing support from big labor, however, poses challenges to a candidacy built around his independence from big money and special interests.
National Nurses United and the American Postal Workers Union have previously backed the self-described Democratic socialist. The CWA, which counts 700,000 members, is the largest union to stand in Sanders’s corner so far. Larry Cohen, the union’s former president, acts as a labor advisor to the Sanders campaign.
Union support helps build momentum for Sanders’s White House run, but may create new headaches for the campaign. That tension was on display at an event announcing the endorsement on Thursday. Sanders criticized the influence of big money in politics and repeated his promise to stay far away from super PACs. But CWA president Chris Shelton indicated the union is likely to use its super PAC to support the candidate.
“We will use whatever we need … to do every single thing we can to get Bernie Sanders elected to the presidency of the United States, so we will use our PAC money,” Shelton said, when asked how CWA planned to use its super PAC to support Sanders. “If Bernie doesn’t want to take it, okay I respect that.”