Citing his promise to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and saying that it is time for the race for the Democratic presidential nomination to end, the seven union, six million member Change to Win federation, on Feb. 21, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama.

In a telephone conference with reporters, CtW Chair Anna Burger said the federation acted now, essentially, to push Obama to wins in the coming primaries, including Texas and Ohio.

“One reason we endorsed now is because we think we can make a difference,” Burger said. “It’s time to bring this process to a close. There’s a movement building here and the winds of change are blowing for Barack Obama, and it could possibly be time for (Hillary Clinton) to recognize they’re blowing for him. We’re hoping to get to that point sooner rather than later.”

“Obama’s stands on trade, on achieving the American Dream and on the war in Iraq – he was against it even while in the Illinois state senate before entering the U.S. Senate – really resonated with our members,” Burger continued.

“NAFTA passed when Bill Clinton was president,” Burger said, referring to the trade pact that labor opposed at the time and maintains today is the cause of millions of job losses. ‘We have seen and lived through the impact of bad trade policies on working families in this country,” Burger said.

Obama has said often that, if elected, he would tell the Mexican president and the Canadian prime minister that NAFTA would have to be re-negotiated.

The CtW endorsement means that four of its seven unions – SEIU, UFCW, Teamsters and UNITE HERE – are joining forces now to make phone calls, leaflet and canvass in the upcoming primary states. The Laborers and Carpenters have yet to complete their internal canvassing while the seventh CtW union, the Farmworkers, endorsed Clinton.

“But they’re comfortable with our decision,” Burger said.

Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas vote March 4. Pennsylvania votes April 22. The biggest impact of the CtW endorsement may be in Ohio where Burger said CtW already has staffers on the ground and where member unions are mobilizing in different cities. CtW unions have 175,000 members in Ohio and Burger said the federation intends to get 110,000 votes for Obama out of that total. CtW unions have 60,000 members in Texas and 20,000 in Rhode Island.

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