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Union Boss Spells Out Endorsement Guidelines

December 3, 2007
Related Topics: Labor Relations, Latest News
Andy Stern is counting on the 1.9 million members of the Service Employees International Union to influence the country’s political agenda and create change in the workplace.

During a luncheon speech to business executives and union members Friday, November 30, sponsored by the Asia Society of Southern California, the SEIU president said his organization would endorse only those 2008 presidential hopefuls with a universal health care plan in place.

“It is important to work with people who are willing to work with us,” Stern said in his speech at the Los Angeles Marriott Downtown.

In addition, candidates had to spend time with union members, sitting down with an SEIU participant and answering a series of questions. Each interview was videotaped and shared with other union affiliates.

And, the candidates shadowed an SEIU member. Sen. Joseph Biden followed a janitor through his day, Stern noted, then had dinner with the SEIU member’s family.

Stern says it gave the presidential hopefuls a firsthand look at meaningful workforce issues in the United States.

Ultimately, the union did not unify nationally for a single candidate.

“The choice got to be very difficult,” Stern said. Instead, the SEIU allowed each state’s membership to make an endorsement.

California is supporting former Sen. John Edwards, while New York is backing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Stern said.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was the lone Republican presidential candidate to participate, Stern notes.

—Gina Ruiz

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