Biden wins first union nod in state

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has earned his first Nevada union endorsement, getting the nod from the Southern Nevada local of the plumbers and pipefitters.

Greg Esposito, the union's political action committee chairman, said Biden was the only candidate to make time to attend a regular meeting of the union's members, and they were wowed by the longtime Delaware senator.

"As far as the issues are concerned, he's been the longest-running vote for organized labor," Esposito said. "His record of voting for organized labor dates back to the '70s." Union members liked Biden's plans to end the Iraq war and improve the economy, and his take-charge attitude, he said.

Local 525 has about 2,200 members and expects them to turn out in large numbers for the state's Jan. 19 caucuses, Esposito said. About 100 members have agreed to be temporary chairs at the caucuses.

The plumbers and pipefitters international union supports the planned nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain and has said it will not consider endorsing a candidate who doesn't see any future for nuclear power.

"Our members would greatly benefit from nuclear power progressing," Esposito said.

Biden opposes Yucca and has voted against it in the Senate, but does not rule out expanding nuclear power.

Biden's campaign director in Nevada, Ronni Council, said the endorsement showed momentum for Biden, who makes only a small dent -- 4 percent at last count -- in state polls, even as his debate performances often draw positive reviews.

"We're excited to have a union that's so politically active," she said. "This will bring a whole new level to the campaign."