SEIU Decides to Stay Neutral

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As we had discussed here before, John Edwards had been wooing the Service Employees International Union, and at one point had been considered a favorite to get its endorsement, which is considered one of the biggest prizes in Democratic politics. The first sign of trouble came last month, when the union said it needed more time to decide which candidate to back. Today, the 1.9-million-member union representing health care workers announced (no link up yet) that it will not offer a national endorsement, though its state and local organizations are free to:

Citing the strength of the presidential field on the key issues for working families, and the importance of the 2008 election on the future of America, SEIU local unions will decide on presidential primary endorsements on a state-by-state basis.

“The outcome of this election will decide whether we finally achieve comprehensive, affordable healthcare for everyone, whether we bring economic security and fairness to working people, whether we bring our sons and daughters home from a civil war in Iraq, and whether working people in America finally have the freedom to form unions without intimidation,” said SEIU President Andy Stern. “Given the importance of this election, we are encouraging members and leaders to act on their passion for the candidates and get involved on a statewide basis.”

SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger said: “Any one of these candidates would help create a new American dream for workers and their families. Once we have a nominee, SEIU members and leaders will launch the largest and most comprehensive campaign in our history to help elect a president who truly cares about working families.”

Local unions in each state will decide in a democratic process whether and/or whom to endorse. Endorsement decisions will not be announced before October 15. States that endorse will engage in positive campaign activities on behalf of their endorsed candidate in their state.

SEIU members will continue their commitment to changing America by working together on key issues, such as overriding President Bush’s veto of children’s healthcare, and mobilizing for SEIU’s largest grassroots effort in history to elect a pro-worker president.

Already the top presidential candidates have been more involved with SEIU members than ever before, including being interviewed by members and walking a day in a member’s shoes at work and home.