Crowd cheers as Sanders drops in on picket line

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 10:06 PM

The Brooklyn-born Sanders addressed an enthusiastic crowd of striking workers from Verizon Communications Inc () as "brothers and sisters" and thanked them for their bravery in standing up to what he characterized as corporate greed.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders paid an impromptu visit to a Verizon workers' picket line in Brooklyn on Wednesday after being endorsed by NY City transit workers as he tried to snatch a bit of union support from rival Hillary Clinton.

The Brooklyn-born Sanders addressed an enthusiastic crowd of striking workers from Verizon Communications Inc () as "brothers and sisters" and thanked them for their bravery in standing up to what he characterized as corporate greed.

It was a scene tailor-made for the U. S. senator from Vermont, who's focused on income inequality in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders is trying to capture up with Clinton, the front-runner, in Tuesday'south primary in New York, a state both candidates have called home.

Workers cheered as Sanders criticized the mammoth communications company for wanting to get far health benefits, outsource jobs and avert federal income taxes, calling it "just another major American Corp trying to demolish the lives of working Americans."

"Today you're standing up not just for justice for Verizon workers, you're standing up for millions of Americans ... and you’re telling corporate America that they cannot have it all," Sanders said.

Nearly 40.000 Verizon employees walked off the work on Wednesday in one of the largest U. S. strikes in recent years after contract talks hit an impasse.

While Sanders whipped up the crowd of hundreds in Brooklyn, Clinton'south campaign issued a statement criticizing Verizon for wanting to outsource more jobs and urging the company to go back to the bargaining table.

"To preserve and grow America'south center class, we necessity to defend excellent salary and benefits, including retirement security," Clinton said. "And we should be doing all we can to hold good-paying jobs with genuine work security in New York."

Earlier, Clinton won the backing of a local unit, representing more than 27.000 area workers, of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of the unions involved in the Verizon strike.

Sanders has championed the rights of working-class Americans, including a proposed $15 federal minimum wage, in daily campaign speeches targeting corporate greed.

Yet Clinton has racked up support from unions representing the majority of organized labor, a crucial base of support for the Democratic Party.

They comprise influential unions such as the AFSCME, a public employees union with 1.6 million members, and the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, which has about two million members in a variety of professions.

In what was widely viewed as a win for Sanders, the AFL-CIO, the country'south largest work union federation, in Feb declined to endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary.

(Extra reporting by Brian Snyder; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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