A few months ago, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton came to Henderson to tour a Smith’s supermarket.

Trailed by media and staff, the New York senator and former first lady made a circuit around the store, shaking hands with stockers and clerks in red shirts and black aprons. She nodded somberly as they told her what was on their minds.

Fortunately for Clinton, the workers didn’t ask her about Wal-Mart.

The workers are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. That union’s No. 1 enemy for decades has been Wal-Mart.              

Clinton once worked for the retail giant, whose labor practices are reviled in union circles. Serving on Wal-Mart’s board in Arkansas, she apparently never voiced objection to the company’s union-busting tactics and anti-union philosophy.

Today, she has distanced herself from Wal-Mart and remade herself as an ardently pro-labor politician.

Clinton’s campaign views her failure to advocate for labor back then, which it has not disputed, as ancient history. She left the board in 1992 when her husband was running for president.

The campaign believes Clinton’s current positions, not her past, are what counts. In 2005, for example, Clinton returned a donation from Wal-Mart to her Senate campaign.

“Senator Clinton believes strongly that Wal-Mart’s workers should be able to unionize and bargain collectively, and that the corporation should provide health insurance coverage to its employees,” campaign spokeswoman Hilarie Grey said.

The question is whether Nevada’s unions, which have major clout in the state’s Jan. 19 Democratic presidential nominating caucuses, will look at the old Clinton or the new Clinton when it comes to support for organized labor.

Two unions in particular, both of which are active in Nevada, have made Wal-Mart a target.

The food workers are backers of a national campaign called Wake Up Wal-Mart and once placed special emphasis on Las Vegas in their attempts to organize retail workers.

Meanwhile, the Service Employees International Union is the force behind Wal-Mart Watch, an effort to push the retailer toward practices the union considers more responsible.

In Nevada, the union of nurses and county workers hopes to decide whether and whom to endorse soon, probably this week, spokeswoman Hilary Haycock said.

Nevada was picked by Democrats to host an early caucus in 2008 in large part because of the strength of unions here. The Nevada caucus has been portrayed as a vetting of candidates’ ability to appeal to organized labor.

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