An auto worker enters the United Auto Workers hall.
An auto worker enters the United Auto Workers hall. - 
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Doug Krizner: Super Tuesday is here. Presidential nominating contests in 24 states. And one of the nation's biggest unions, the United Auto Workers, is in the midst of its annual legislative conference. Marketplace's Steve Tripoli looks at the connection between the conference and the elections.

Steve Tripoli: The UAW's top issues this election year are health care, labor-friendly trade agreements and union organizing rights.

Gary Chaison's a labor expert at Clark University in Massachusetts. He says the UAW will push those issues by backing Democrats, but mostly not with cash.

Gary Chaison: The UAW, like most unions, doesn't really concentrate its effort in direct funding, but rather provides the ground troops.

Chaison says those ground troops are more fired up than usual this year. That's because they've seen that many of their issues reach beyond the bargaining table.

Chaison: They're beginning to realize that many of the problems they face are problems that are most directly resolved through political action rather than strikes or negotiations.

And despite small numbers among workers, Chaison says unions are still an election-year force.

Chaison: They're one of the few organizations that can really mobilize members in election campaigns.

He says union endorsements of candidates still matter, too. So far, the UAW's not backing anyone.

I'm Steve Tripoli for Marketplace.