Friday, February 15, 2008

SEIU Backs Obama

by Joel Wendland

"There has never been a fight in Illinois or a fight in the nation where our members have not asked Barack Obama for assistance and he has not done everything he could to help us," said Andy Stern, the Service Employees International Union's president, according to the Associated Press.

SEIU announced today its endorsement of Barack Obama for president.

A press statement by the union adds:
Nurses, childcare workers, janitors and other service workers endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president today, calling him the candidate with the best vision, best plan and best strategy to lead the country to a new American Dream. [...]

SEIU members are supporting Obama with an aggressive political effort. With more than 150,000 members in the upcoming primary states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas, SEIU will mobilize thousands to go door-to-door, work the phones, and will send mail about their support for Obama. SEIU also will have a substantial presence on television and radio in every critical state.

Stern stated, "Barack Obama is creating the broadest and deepest coalition of voters we’ve ever seen."

Anna Burger, secretary-treasurer of SEIU and chair of the Change to Win federation of unions that includes SEIU, said, “This is one of the most important presidential elections workers have faced. Families are struggling, we’re fighting two wars, and a majority of Americans are now worried that their children will be worse off than they are. Obama is the right person at the right time to lead the change we so desperately need in our country.”

CtW Leaning Toward Obama?

Other Change to Win unions that have endorsed Obama include the United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE. Of the four other unions in the CtW federation, two have made presidential endorsements: the Carpenters (Edwards) and the Farm Workers (Clinton). (The Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, an AFL-CIO affiliated union, also backed Obama, bringing the total number of international unions who support him to 4 with about 4.5 million members.)

The remaining members of CtW are the Laborer's and the Teamsters.

According to a Laborers' International Union (LIUNA) press release put out today, that union of mainly construction workers is preparing its third member survey to select a candidate. So far, reads the statement, the members have demonstrated a preference for a Democratic candidate but neither Clinton nor Obama have reached the 60% threshold for winning the endorsement.

The final member of CtW is the Teamsters Union, and it has not indicated who it will endorse, though its Web site includes positive information about both Clinton and Obama.

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