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One of the state’s most powerful labor unions has endorsed US Senator Edward M. Markey for reelection.

The American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, a chapter of one of the nation’s largest teachers unions, announced Saturday night that it backs Markey, who is seeking his second full term in the Senate.

He is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III, of Newton, in the September primary.

“Senator Ed Markey has been a supporter of public education for decades and has consistently fought for adequate funding — not because we asked him to, but because he knows that public education is the pathway to better communities,” AFT Massachusetts president Beth Kontos said in a statement.

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The union represents more than 23,000 public school employees, including those in Boston, as well as higher education staff members and public librarians throughout the state.

Markey, the son of a milkman who grew up in Malden, was elected to the Senate in a special election in 2013. He was elected to his first full term in 2014.

His blue-collar roots were a factor in the union’s decision, Kontos said.

“He grew up in a household that valued education and the rights of workers. His record in support of labor and the rights of workers to organize is second to none,” she said.

Markey said he was grateful for the organization’s support.

“Our school employees and our educators are heroes,” he said in the statement. “Their work is instrumental to ensuring that our children are prepared for the future. They deserve to have wages, health care, and other benefits that reflect just how vital their role is.”

Markey noted his father was a labor leader.

“I learned just how critical unions are to families, to our economy, and to our democracy,” he said in the statement. " I will always fight for AFT Massachusetts, and I am proud that they will fight for me.”

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The AFT of Massachusetts joins a list of other labor unions that have endorsed Markey, including the American Postal Workers Local #4553, UNITE HERE Local 26, which represents hospitality workers, as well as groups such as the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NRDC Action Fund, according to the statement.