AFL-CIO Endorsement Process, President and Vice President of the United
February 25, 2003
The national elections next year will present the American public, including
Americaís union families, with critically important choices. No choice
will be more important than who will serve as president of the United States.
During the past two years, under the leadership of President George W. Bush and the influence of his corporate allies, Americans have seen millions of jobs disappear, much of their retirement savings vanish, and health care coverage shrivel. Meanwhile, the White House pushes a domestic agenda designed to benefit the wealthy at the expense of working Americans and the poor, even as deficits soar and war looms. The 2004 election will test whether these policies have the support of the American people, and it will challenge the President and others to present a vision worthy of the publicís embrace.
Americaís labor movement has dedicated itself to informing and mobilizing union members and their families around the crucial issues that confront us. We intend to build on these efforts and mount a substantial campaign to elect political leadership that will speak to the needs of ordinary Americans and offer a compelling program for justice, equality and prosperity.
Our campaign will be predicated on the active involvement of Americanís union members and the fulfillment of their aspirations. In the coming months, presidential candidates will seek the support of union members and their elected leaders at every level. We will provide opportunities for candidates to listen to working men and women and hear their concerns, and we will aggressively press candidates to embrace these concerns. We commit ourselves to an open process of consideration and debate in which union members are fully informed and engaged.
The labor movement is most effective when it speaks with one voice, and when that voice represents the will of our membership. For these reasons, AFL-CIO affiliates traditionally have undertaken active processes of internal membership consultation about a presidential endorsement, and they have refrained from making an endorsement until this vital matter could be considered by the federation as a whole.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council therefore adopts the following principles to guide deliberations by affiliated unions during this period:
An AFL-CIO endorsement of candidates for president and vice president will require approval by a
two-thirds vote of the General Board, following a recommendation of the Executive Council. Until
such a vote occurs, the AFL-CIO will remain neutral and will treat all announced candidates with
equal consideration. The AFL-CIO, at appropriate times, will provide forums for the candidates to
address issues of concern to working families and will provide unions with political education
materials. Until the AFL-CIO acts, state federations and central labor councils may not endorse
candidates for these offices, in accordance with the rules governing these affiliates.
National unions are urged to refrain from endorsing
presidential candidates until the federation is
prepared to consider this question. National unions should offer all announced candidates
appropriate opportunities to hear from and speak to union members and provide effective means
for union members to express their views about these candidates.
Union members are encouraged to participate
fully in the political process and to make their views
known within their organizations. Members are also encouraged to seek to become delegates to
national party conventions, and such participation should not imply organizational support for
The AFL-CIO looks forward to the coming national election period as an opportunity for the entire union movement to participate in the direction and leadership choices of our nation. The Council will review the endorsement process at its meeting in August 2003.