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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes today picked up the backing of Kentucky's AFL-CIO.
The endorsement comes on the same day the man she wants to replace made a move sure to anger many members of the labor union.
Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell today announced he's sponsoring a national right-to-work amendment. The move underscores a clear distinction between McConnell and Grimes when it comes to big labor.
Grimes got an enthusiastic reception from the state AFL-CIO as it announced its official endorsement -- and Grimes made it clear she'll champion pro-labor issues as she attacked Sen. McConnell's record.
"In the 28 years he's been there, he's increased his congressional pay each and every year, quadrupled his net worth, all the while refusing to increase the minimum wage. Have we had enough? Let me hear you say, 'yes!'" Grimes told the crowd.
The endorsement comes as no surprise. The AFL-CIO routinely backs Democrats who challenge McConnell, but President Bill Londrigan says there's real excitement about Grimes among the 200,000 members.
"What makes it different is that we have a lot more energy, that Mitch McConnell's record has gotten so much poorer, and that people in this country have gotten so much poorer," said Londrigan.
While Grimes was receiving the backing of big labor, Sen. McConnell was going in the opposite direction.
"Big labor has come to care more about its own perks and power than the workers it's charged with protecting," said McConnell on the U.S. Senate floor.
McConnell announced he's co-sponsoring, along with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a national right-to-work amendment. It would allow workers to opt out of joining labor unions and paying union dues.
"Protecting the rights of workers, creating jobs, growing the economy and keeping pace with the modern world -- that's what right-to-work is all about," said McConnell.
But Grimes says it's really all about busting the labor unions.
"Right-to-work is simply wrong for the state of Kentucky," said Grimes. "It's about recognizing and knowing that labor has literally lifted millions out of poverty."
McConnell's primary opponent, Matt Bevin, also supports right-to-work.
About 10 percent of Kentucky workers belong to labor unions, but while their influence has waned over the years, their turnout could play a role in a tight election.