United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 21 (UFCW 21), the largest private-sector union in the state and the largest UFCW local in the country, is announcing endorsements of Bernie Sanders for president and Medicare for All.
UFCW 21 has long been at the forefront of advancing the rights and dignity of working people, and its democratically elected member executive board voted Tuesday night to make the endorsements because its members understand what is at stake for workers in the upcoming election, according to a UFCW 21 news release.
“Bernie Sanders has by far the most pro-worker labor agenda of any candidate, and we have already seen him use his platform during this campaign to support organizing in the industries we represent,” said Faye Guenther, president of UFCW 21, in the news release. “As a union, our fundamental goal is to expand worker democracy and power. We are so excited to see a candidate committed to expanding the electorate and inspiring even more people to engage with the democratic process, both in their workplaces and in this election.”
“Bernie understands that even health care workers don’t always have good health care plans,” said Jose Hernandez, UFCW 21 executive board member and emergency department assistant at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. “As someone who works in an ER, I see the effects of our broken health care system every day, as patients skip getting the care they need because they can’t afford it, leading to worse health outcomes and higher costs for everyone. And as a union member, Medicare for All relieves us of the burden of long, drawn-out fights to maintain our health care plans, freeing working people from the crushing consequences of getting sick and opening doors for wage increases and other benefits.”
“We know what it’s like to go up against big corporations and win—and we know Bernie doesn’t back down from a fight,” said Kyong Barry, UFCW 21 executive board member and front-end supervisor at Albertsons in Auburn. “Union workers are facing an uphill battle at the federal level as corporations are attempting to systematically dismantle the protections the union movement has fought for. We’re supporting a candidate who understands the structural change needed to rebuild the union movement.”
This election cycle, issues and candidates on the ballot will determine the long-term health and future of the labor movement. The union also views U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren as another strong candidate.
“In the Washington Primary (March 10), you can only vote for one person and we feel that Sanders has a strong track record and set of policy proposals to support union and not-yet-union workers,” according to UFCW 21.
UFCW 21 represents more than 46,000 workers in retail, grocery stores, health care, cannabis and other industries in Washington State.