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  • U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton | Photo: AFP

Published 24 February 2016

A U.S. union that has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president threatened to cut funds from a state labor group if its head speaks at a Bernie Sanders event.

The head of the Washington State Labor Council, Jeff Johnson, was threatened with financial cuts to his organization by a major pro-Hillary Clinton union in the United States if he was to appear in a pro-Bernie Sanders event.

Johnson had to cancel his speech at a "Labor for Bernie" rally in Seattle after a union called American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, threatened to cut funds to his council, according to a report by the Huffington Post Tuesday.

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The council has not yet endorsed any candidate for the White House race. AFSCME is one of the largest public sector unions in the U.S. which endorsed Clinton for president back in October.

Both Washington State Labor Council and AFSCME are affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, a national trade union center and the largest federation of unions in the United States.

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Asked for comment on the situation in Seattle, AFSCME did not deny having intervened. A senior AFSCME official sent along the following statement:

"As affiliates of the national federation, state labor federations are required to maintain a neutral position in presidential contests until an official endorsement is made by the national AFL-CIO. We expect all state federations to remain in compliance with this policy and where necessary we will exercise the option of withholding funding to ensure compliance with this rule."

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However, individual union councils and groups are free to endorse or appear in events related to the presidential elections, just as the group that threatened Johnson had already endorsed Clinton in its own capacity.

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