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Utah union leaders optimistic in current political climate

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Posted at 5:54 PM, Sep 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 19:54:40-04

MAGNA, Utah -- On Labor Day, the AFL-CIO has hosted Utah worker at Magna City Park every year for 15 years.

It's been a tough 15 years for labor.

In fact, go back 30 years, and labor unions have gone from 20 percent of all workers to just over 11 percent.

Brandon Dew, the president of the Central Utah Union of Operating Engineers, says union declines are directly related to stagnant wages, the gap between rich and poor, and the decline of the middle class.

"It gets harder and harder for unions to stay relevant when more and more politics and laws are taken out to hurt the middle class," Dew said.

But Dew and Utah AFL-CIO president Dale Cox say the current political climate may stop the decline of unions.

"I like Bernie Sanders. I like Elizabeth Warren," Cox said.

Sanders is a Vermont senator gaining on Hillary Clinton in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination and Warren is a Massachusetts senator who has built much of her career as a champion of workers' rights.