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Powerful auto union backs Clinton for president

The powerful United Auto Workers union on Wednesday endorsed Hillary Clinton's White House bid and questioned Donald Trump's support of its members.
SALINAS, CA - MAY 25: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on during a campaign rally at Hartnell College on May 25, 2016 in Salinas, California. Hillary Clinton is campaigning in California ahaed of the State's presidential primary on June 7th.   Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

SALINAS, CA – MAY 25: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on during a campaign rally at Hartnell College on May 25, 2016 in Salinas, California. Hillary Clinton is campaigning in California ahaed of the State’s presidential primary on June 7th. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

The powerful United Auto Workers union on Wednesday endorsed Hillary Clinton’s White House bid and questioned Donald Trump’s support of its members.

In a statement, UAW President Dennis Williams lauded the Democratic frontrunner as someone who “understands the complexities of multinational economies and supports American workers.”

“In 2009 she fought for preserving collective bargaining rights and stood up against attacks on collective bargaining when we needed her. She’s an advocate for expanding overtime rules to include more working families, she believes in equal pay, paid family leave, and quality, affordable child care,” the endorsement said.

The union’s backing will be important in battleground states in the industrial “Rust Belt,” such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which are thought to hold the keys to November’s election.

Clinton said she was honored by the endorsement.

“If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, organized labor will always have a champion in the White House and a seat at the table -because when unions are strong, families are strong, and when families are strong, America is strong,” she said in a statement.

Last week, Williams said some board members, notably Cindy Estrada, the head of the union’s GM department, had favored Bernie Sanders, thanks to his condemnation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals.

“Bernie Sanders has brought to this campaign a dialogue that has been needed for far too long … But, the fact is, Hillary Clinton has shown under pressure her ability to lead and get elected in November,” the endorsement said.

The union said candidates from both parties were sent questionnaires, but no Republicans responded.

The UAW cited reports suggesting that Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, would move union jobs to nonunion states to compete with Mexican wages.

In an interview with The Detroit News last summer, Trump reportedly said he supports keeping auto manufacturing jobs in the US, and a way to do that would be to shift them to states with lower wages.

“Mr. Trump clearly does not support the economic security of UAW families,” Williams said in Wednesday’s endorsement.