AFL-CIO leader warns labor could sit out 2016 fight over trade

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka warned Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSanders aide: 'Someone needs to be held accountable' for DNC emails Democrats vote to overhaul superdelegate system Green candidate: Sanders should leave party that 'betrayed' him MORE that his powerful labor union coalition might not endorse her presidential campaign if she comes out in support of the controversial trade deal making its way through Congress.

Trumka first said in an interview with USA Today that it would cost Clinton the enthusiasm of organized labor if she backed the Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated by the Obama administration.

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He then said it was not inevitable that the AFL-CIO will endorse whoever wins the Democratic nomination.  

“You can not endorse for president, that's conceivable if both candidates weren't interested in raising wages,” he told USA Today in a video interview posted Thursday

“If we are convinced that neither candidate has that, I think we would spend our money elsewhere, probably on Senate candidates and congressional candidates and governors and state houses and things of that sort where we'd have a much greater effect.”

Clinton has walked a fine line on the TPP. The issue has pit President Obama against much of his party, with opposition led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Clinton has refused to take sides, though she backed the deal when she served Obama as secretary of State.

The Senate last week passed fast-track, which would prevent the TPP from being amended by Congress, making it much easier to finish negotiations. The House fight over fast-track is expected to dominate Capitol Hill next month.

Trumka said Democratic senators who backed fast-track had left “their base,” warning that the vote could sour labor support in future elections and that the vote will be a “major” part of the group's report card that's sent out to members around election season.

“They decided to pass something that was going to cost jobs and lower wages, and they're going to have to answer to their constituencies for that whenever they face them,” he said. “They'll be held accountable; there's no question about that.” 

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