The United Mine Workers of America endorsed Barack Obama for president Wednesday despite his recent defeats in primaries in coal-producing states where many of the union's members vote.
The endorsement continues organized labor's swing over to the Democratic front-runner as the primaries wrap up. Obama lost heavily to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in Tuesday's Kentucky primary and last week's West Virginia primary.
"Senator Obama shares the values of UMWA members and our families. He understands and will fight for the needs our members have today and the hopes our members have for a secure future for themselves and their families," union president Cecil E. Roberts said.
The Mine Workers — along with the United Steelworkers union — had originally endorsed former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. However, Edwards dropped out of the race and threw his support to Obama last week and was immediately followed by the Steelworkers union.
Only one union that originally endorsed Edwards — the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners — has not subsequently endorsed Obama.
Obama and Clinton, have been courting unions and their blue-collar voters since Edwards dropped out of the race. The Mine Workers, however, was unanimous in picking Obama for its endorsement, Roberts said.
"Senator Obama will fight to preserve American jobs, not ship them overseas in greater and greater numbers," Roberts said. "Senator Obama will make sure that the nation's mine safety and health enforcement agency actually enforces the law, instead of coddling mine operators who repeatedly and willfully violate the law."
The Mine Workers union represents 105,000 active and retired coal miners, mine construction workers, public service employees, health care workers and manufacturing workers in the United States and Canada.