Labor leaders are nervous about Donald Trump’s appeal to unions’ many white, working-class members, and they are working to head off partisan defections.
Unions spend heavily to support Democrats in elections and wield great influence over whether their members support those candidates. But labor leaders fear many of their members could be drawn to Mr. Trump. Merged Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling data from the first four months of the year show that among white union households, support is split evenly between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton, at 44% each, in a potential general-election matchup.
“Everybody recognizes the enormous threat Trump poses” whether their unions have backed either Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders or Mrs. Clinton, said Robert Master, the Eastern region political director for the Communications Workers of America, which has endorsed Mr. Sanders. “There’s an element in that right-wing populism that is appealing to some of our members, there’s no question about that,” Mr. Master said.
The AFL-CIO is preparing an education campaign to highlight some of Mr. Trump’s statements—such as that wages are too high—and lesser-known things about how he has run his businesses and treated employees, said Mike Podhorzer, political director of the nation’s largest federation of labor unions.
Last week, the AFL-CIO began its on-the-ground program in battleground states including Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Nevada. It is distributing fliers at members’ workplaces and homes and is making them available to its affiliate unions and local chapters in every state.