The AFL-CIO includes more than 13 million American workers in 64 unions working in many areas of the economy, and it is controlled by a quadrennial convention where elected delegates represent all members from the unions. These delegates set the policies for the union, and every four years, they elect the AFL-CIO officers. This group of officers is called the AFL-CIO Executive Council, and there is a president, secretary-treasurer, executive vice president, and fifty-one vice presidents. The AFL-CIO General Board, which includes the Executive Council and a chief officer of each participating union, regards the matters that the Executive Council brings up, and these are typically endorsements of candidates for United States president and vice president.
The AFL-CIO's committee on political education attempts to influence politics in many, subtle ways. They sponsor and endorse different organizations that influence people to vote. In Texas, they have endorsed two minority candidates who favor affirmative action for governor and the Senate.
Tony Sanchez is a Mexican-American banker who is running for governor on the Democratic Party ticket, and he won the nomination over former legislator Don Morales despite his 90 percent pro-labor voting record. Sanchez is pro-affirmative action while Morales opposed it, and Sanchez was a backer of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) lawsuit that secured a more equitable system of school financing. In a speech to the convention, Morales said he fought against it and showed his support for the Hopwood case, a case that profiled several white students who sued the University of Texas's law school for "reverse discrimination." A dual endorsement was given to Ron Kirk and Representative Ken Bentsen for the U.S. Senate seat left by Phil Gramm. Kirk is the former African-American mayor of Dallas, and he told the convention that he would not vote for Gramm's type of legislation. Both candidates were endorses by the AFL-CIO for the Democratic Party primary.
Another influence the AFL-CIO's committee on political education has on politics is in helping small communities. The South Bay AFL-CIO was the first county in the United States to offer affordable health care for every child. Because of that, every adult, regardless of income, is able to gain access to needed health care. Also, they help underprivileged people who are unable to afford a place to live by granting special funds to rent apartments or even fund small mortgages on homes. They are even talking with the government about helping with public school education.