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SEIU President Pledges to Expand Union’s Third Party Organizing Efforts

From Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:

. . . In an interview with the Huffington Post on Thursday, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry confirmed that her union will not back Sen. Blanche Lincoln even if the Arkansas incumbent beats her primary opponent — SEIU-backed Lt. Governor Bill Halter . . .

for Henry, the decision to fully withhold support from non-sympathetic or unhelpful Democratic nominees reflects a broader vision of how the SEIU’s political apparatus will operate. The newly elected union president pledged to expand on the policy put in place by her predecessor, Andy Stern, to start third-party organizations in districts where neither major party candidate reflects labor’s interests [Emphasis added].

“We want to use whatever innovative strategies we can to accomplish our members’ goal to trying to elect politicians who will stand with working families no matter what the heat is that comes on them,” Henry said.


  1. Dave Schwab Dave Schwab May 14, 2010

    If you’re serious about going independent from the corporate-sponsored parties, you have to be prepared to be called a spoiler. It’s not clear if they’re serious, or just playing games like the Working Families Party.

  2. d.eris d.eris May 14, 2010

    Dave’s argument about control makes sense. There might also be residual resentment and prejudice against the Greens from the 2000 presidential race, or fear of a Democratic backlash due to such resentment.

  3. Labor Notes Labor Notes May 14, 2010

    SEIU has a well-deserved reputation for not playing nice with other unions. It is highly centralized and often works against its own grassroots. I would be very surprised if the national office ok’d participation in any organization they didn’t completely control. Hence, no consideration of the Greens. I will be pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.

  4. Dave Schwab Dave Schwab May 14, 2010

    Some unions might support John Gray if Lincoln wins the primary, but who can say with SEIU; it’s not clear if they’re serious about starting third parties, or just toying with the Democrats. For example, SEIU recently started a drive to put a new party on the ballot in NC, apparently to challenge Dems in Congress who voted against Obamacare. They conspicuously did not team up with the NC Green Party, possibly since they want control to run candidates only in races where they don’t like the Democrat.

    I think both Mel Packer in PA and John Gray in AR have the opportunity to reach out to unions (definitely to union members) if Specter and Lincoln win their primaries (both are backed by Obama against allegedly progressive challengers, btw).

  5. Danny S Danny S May 13, 2010

    I am with Ross here on this one. In Arkansas they should work with the Green candidate, an elected mayor, if Halter fails.

  6. Ross Levin Ross Levin May 13, 2010

    WHY AREN’T THEY SUPPORTING THE GREEN PARTY??!?!?!?!?! The Greens have had a bit of success in Arkansas.

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