SEIU decorates their new stall in the Clinton veal pen

SEIU

…in the veal pen.

Last week I mentioned it would be interesting to see if SEIU Florida keeps its pledge to  exclusively endorse and make contributions to candidates who agree to both take the Minimum Wage Challenge in the Fight For $15 campaign, and support $15 an hour minimum wage bills. At issue was the case of Darren Soto running in Congressional District 9. Soto didn’t bother to take the Minimum Wage Challenge, but has co-sponsored the higher wage bill in the Florida Senate.

A few days later at the Democratic Presidential debate, Hillary Clinton announced that she doesn’t support a $15 minimum wage. Instead she’s fighting for $12 an hour — and, today we learned that despite this, the SEIU will be endorsing Clinton for president.

Folks have been supporting the SEIU’s Fight for $15 campaign for a couple of years now by striking and losing their jobs; protesting at ungodly hours in all kinds of weather; and basically doing anything the union tells them to. Now the union pays them back by endorsing a candidate who doesn’t even support their cause. This is an enormous slap in the face to all the people who have been working so hard in this fight to achieve a living wage.

It should not be a radical idea that if you work full time, you should be able to support yourself and a child. You can see from the chart below that a living wage for a family in Florida is far more $15 an hour. Families not making enough are going into debt, or finding other ways to cope. Use your imagination here.

This betrayal is exactly what a Clinton Administration will feel like for the duration. It will be one laissez-faire, neoliberal sell-out after another on the part of leadership and allies. 

It’s how Clintonian Triangulation works: take all the issues “off the table,” so the base is left with nothing. We lived through it in the 90s, and believe me, it was worse than simply not making headway on our issues.

The Clinton Administration gave away serious issues to special interests, resulting in NAFTA which shipped our middle class manufacturing jobs overseas. Then, there were deals that ended critical Wall Street regulation, which resulted in the crash in 2008. Let’s not forget the deregulation of telecommunications that effectively killed radio, and is also why we pay so damn much for the crappiest internet in the world. And, don’t even get me started on “ending Welfare as we know it.”

I remember being so angry at my friends back in Tennessee when they let me know they couldn’t vote for Al Gore in 2000. I felt like a Gore Administration would have been very different than the Clinton Administration, and certainly different than the Bush mess. Plus, I had an irrational political crush on Al Gore. I still can’t explain it.

With a few years behind me, I completely understand their anger, and it’s easy to see how Gore couldn’t carry his home state. It wasn’t the baggage of a the Clinton affairs that depressed voters, like many claimed at the time. It was the baggage of the Clinton way of doing business.

I’m afraid that a Clinton Administration would be the worst thing to happen for working families and progressive policy, since…the last Clinton Administration. This SEIU endorsement is a clear indication of how allies will happily occupy their new veal pens. Of course, I hope that Hillary Clinton won’t govern the way Bill did, pandering to special interests and selling out the base. But, there’s nothing standing in her way. Not the almighty unions. That’s for sure.

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Brook Hines is a writer, photographer, activist and former alt-weekly publisher, as well as an award-winning advertising creative with more than 20 years’ experience crafting strategy for clients ranging from healthcare companies to museums. She’s the Senior Political Correspondent for Progressive News Network (tune this Sunday at 7:30 pm or download the podcast anytime), and the Communications Chair for the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida. All opinions offered here are her own, delivered from the perspective of social theory, cultural criticism, and near constant stream of caffeine. Political and media analysis through a Progressive lens. Read all of Brook’s articles here. Check out brookhines.com
awesome dogs couch

These are her Italian Greyhounds, Trouble and Daphne.

 

8 comments

  1. David Lutirb · · Reply

    This is an excellent article, but extremely disheartening. As a teacher, I wasn’t surprised when the AFT gave an early endorsement for Hillary. After all, Randi Weingarten has been carrying Hillary’s bags for a long time and is salivating for the Secretary of Education post. I thought the NEA would at least wait a little longer before they pulled out the rubber stamp, but they too fell for the empty promises and jumped on the first woman president bandwagon, rather than actually focusing on the issues.
    But the SEIU, the champion of the blue collar workers: holy crap. I never thought I would see the day that the most progressive union of the the working man/woman would sell their members out for a Wall Street corporatist hawk. Shame on them. On deck is the AFL-CIO. I wonder where they will go???
    It seems that the only unions with any sense are the nurses and the postal workers.
    Why are unions voting against their best interests by endorsing Hillary?
    It appears that the big national unions have adopted the voting strategy of the poor and middle class Republicans of voting against their best interests.
    It is time for a political revolution.

  2. “This betrayal is exactly what a Clinton Administration will feel like for the duration. It will be one laissez-faire, neoliberal sell-out after another on the part of leadership and allies.”

    So well put. How a union whose members are risking their jobs to Fight for 15 can endorse the only Democratic candidate who clearly says, No, settle for 12, is absolutely mindboggling. And the instant graphics all over their facebook page using member to say “she has always fought for us” is just a twist of the knife. I truly hope the member learn the truth before the coronation.

  3. Fisher Flemming · · Reply

    Some ugly deal-making here, no doubt. Looks like SEIU is simply more comfortable with Clinton’s familiar political maneuvering than with Sanders’ uncomfortably unfamiliar focus on policy and problem solving.

    Knocks SEIU down several notches in my view. The takeaway seems to be you can’t count them if there is some political quid pro quo weighing against it.

    We should do the same — support SEIU only when it is politically convenient. Just remember you can’t count on them to do the right thing in all cases.

  4. SEIU you lost me.” I ain’t marchin anymore.”

  5. Hank Porter · · Reply

    The author’s vision of the Democratic Party is one so pure and ideological that SEIU is nothing but another “neo-liberal sellout.” This approach is the path to self-righteous irrelevance. Even more problematically, it risks squandering the success that Sanders, Warren and others have had moving the Democratic Party’s agenda back to the left. Instead, I encourage you all to declare this a progressive victory and help other progressives win down ballot races, where they can drive positive change at the local and state level.

  6. Stop with the “disheartening” nonsense. It should be an inspiration to all of us Bernie supporters to kick this into gear. This isn’t about feeling good reading about what Bernie’s trying to do. This just plain doesn’t happen without us all doing our part knocking doors and making phone calls. And remember: the locals can do whatever they choose to. They just have to get a vote together. The SEIU local in New Hampshire has endorsed Bernie. Stop whining and do outreach to the local SEIU in your area! We already have it coming together in St. Pete.

  7. The good news: Locals can still stand up, like they did in New Hampshire for Bernie. Time for Florida SEIU to show some spine like NH! Please call your local SEIU and let them know you show solidarity with Fight For $15, and that they should show solidarity with Bernie! http://thehill.com/regulation/labor/260852-new-hampshire-seiu-branch-backs-sanders

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