Sign at the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C.
Sign at the AFL-CIO building in Washington, D.C. - 


Scott Jagow: Last night, the AFL-CIO hosted a forum with almost all of the democratic presidential candidates. The labor union is thinking about endorsing a candidate as early as this fall, with the election still a year away. I'm sure the chosen candidate would be thrilled about that, but the AFL-CIO is quite a bit smaller than it was four years ago. So we're wondering how significant that endorsement might be this time. Here's Jeremy Hobson:

Jeremy Hobson: After the last presidential election, several unions split off from the AFL-CIO, bringing membership from 13 million down to 10 million.

But it still has loads of cash and the ability to mobilize voters and volunteers in huge numbers, says AFL-CIO spokesman Steve Smith.

Steve Smith: We're certainly looking forward to the biggest, broadest, deepest AFL-CIO mobilization that we've ever had in this country.

Since the 1984 election, the federation has made only two endorsements before the primaries.

Cornell University labor studies professor Richard Hurd says to have an early endorsement, there would have to be one candidate who stands out in support of labor issues — and has a good chance of winning.

Richard Hurd: I think that's gonna be a little bit of a difficult bar to reach, and it's unlikely in my mind that labor will choose to endorse anybody.

If that's the case, the AFL-CIO will allow its member unions to make their own endorsements.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson