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State teachers union endorses Markey for Senate

Lynch, a former iron worker, points to other labor backing he has won

United States Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., center, was endorsed by the 35,000-member American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts Monday.

Steven Senne/AP Photo

United States Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., center, was endorsed by the 35,000-member American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts Monday.

With the Democratic Senate hopefuls locked in a dogfight for every vote, they are especially focused on winning the support of organized labor, backing that both camps see as vital to a primary victory.

US Representatives Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch have sought the endorsements of hundreds of labor unions, hoping the broad base of power will help propel them to victory in the way it did for Elizabeth Warren during her successful Senate race in November.

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Markey has earned the endorsements of many big unions in recent weeks, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union. Campaign officials say those endorsements total more than 255,000 workers.

Markey added another endorsement to his list Monday when the 35,000-member American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts announced its support for his campaign, one month after the state’s largest teacher union, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, also endorsed him.

“In a primary election, when it is core party activists that vote primarily, endorsements from labor unions are extremely important,” said Jim Durkin, spokesman for AFSCME Council 93.

“Our members are known for their activism, and we’ll be doing a ton of communication with them about why, of two good candidates, Congressman Markey is the best candidate for our union.”

In all, the Lynch camp claims the endorsements of 77 unions, while the Markey camp notes that, when all of the chapters of the endorsing unions are included, their tally numbers in the hundreds.

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“I am proud of the support I am receiving from unions,” Markey said in a statement Monday. “I will continue to meet with labor leaders and rank and file members to share my record of fighting for workers and middle-class families.”

But Lynch is not without big labor backing, including an endorsement from the Massachusetts Building Trades Council, the umbrella group that includes the Iron Workers Union where Lynch once served as president.

On the trail, Lynch has touted his ongoing relationship with many members of the 75,000-member union.

“People forget that unions don’t just help their members; they help increase wages for all workers,” Lynch said in a statement on Monday. “As a dues-paying, card-carrying union member, and the founder of the Working Families and Labor Caucus in Congress, I will always stand for working families in the Senate.”

The South Boston native has also picked up more than 75 other union endorsements, including support of the state’s nurses and firefighters unions.

Lynch lost what would have been his biggest labor win when the AFL-CIO could not reach the two-thirds consensus needed to issue an endorsement of either candidate.

Still, the Lynch campaign said labor backing will play a big role in their efforts.

“Our labor volunteers — the nurses, firefighters, building trades, police officers, carpenters, letter carriers, and other unions — have been tremendous so far,” said Conor Yunits, a Lynch campaign spokesman.

Wesley Lowery can be reached at wesley.lowery@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @wesleylowery.

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