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AFL-CIO to endorse Kerry

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry has won the backing of the AFL-CIO, a spokesman for the nation's biggest labor group told CNN Friday.

Kerry will be endorsed by the organization, which encompasses 13 million people in 64 member unions, at a meeting of the general board Thursday, the spokesman said.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney scheduled the meeting in a memo to leaders of the member unions.

The group, established in 1955 when the American Federation of Labor merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, has traditionally not weighed in during primary season. But it supported Walter Mondale in 1984 and Al Gore in 2000 before they won the Democratic presidential nominations.

Rep. Dick Gephardt tried to win the AFL-CIO's support last fall. A popular figure among unions, he gave up his presidential bid after placing fourth in the Iowa caucuses. He has since thrown his support to Kerry. (Gephardt to endorse former rival Kerry)

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