SEIU Decision to Endorse Hillary Clinton is Classic Union Politics of 2015

16537937864_416e5a8037_kSEIU’s decision to endorse Secretary Hillary Clinton for President on Tuesday was mildly shocking. I say mildly because the union movement has in recent years seized to be about working class Americans and more about Democratic Party politics.  Clinton’s evasive answers on the minimum wage and fight for $15 during Saturday’s CBS debate should have given leaders of the Labor movement pause, especially those at SEIU that have been on forefront of the fight for $15. The battle to bring all Americans wages to an acceptable level, a true “living wage,” seem to be a fight that Secretary Clinton wants to avoid. Yet she is now the endorsed candidate of the organization most associated with that movement.

The welfare of working class Americans are important for symbolic purposes and to maintain an aura of credibility for unions like SEIU, but ultimately influence within the political circles of the Democratic Party is the chief motivator for the leadership of many of today’s labor leaders. Much  of the union leadership tends to be more focused on political campaigns and races than collective bargaining, more focused on influence within the Democratic Party than good ole’ fashioned organizing.

Today’s labor movement is almost entirely political – on this Republican critics of unions are not wrong. Given Hillary Clinton’s many faces, and desire to placate all sides within the Democratic Party in that most Clintonian of manners, support from SEIU is almost certain to be a harbinger of future union endorsements.

Much like in the 1990’s when the Christian Coalition claimed tax cuts were family friendly legislation to justify backing more mainstream GOPers against anti-choice Democrats, unions seem to use different metrics and criteria in order to throw in with establishment Democrats over those who actually stand tall on this issues organized labor claims to be concerned with. Similar to the Christian Coalition and other GOP-aligned organizations the success of the Democratic Party, even with mushy moderate pro-Wall Street Democrats is paramount in this era of politicized union leadership.

The American electorate is seeing a rapid increase in No Party Affiliation voters (NPA’s) in every election cycle. Unions are no exception to this trend, as many disaffected working class Americans and progressives abandon the Democratic Party for the independence of being an unaffiliated voter.

SEIU’s decision to back Secretary Clinton will no doubt give the state and national leaders of the organization more pull and increased clout within the echo chamber of the Democratic Party. But it might disaffect members of the union from their leadership as they see Secretary Clinton waffle on the issues that matter most to them, and to the families they love. It might cause them even more pain when Secretary Clinton defends Wall Street and banking deregulation in same manner her husband did when he was the titular head of the Democratic Party, while using similar language and rhetoric to many Republicans.

Chances are quite good Secretary Clinton will be our next President. But the short term gains for the leadership of SEIU and other labor leadership might be obscured long-term by the damaged credibility the movement suffers. But this is simply a reflection of where Labor is in 2015 – a politically motivated appendage of the Democratic Party establishment.

7 comments

  1. David Lutrin · · Reply

    It sucks that SEIU national has sold out its members to endorse a candidate that will surely sell them them out, if elected. Twelve dollars an hour is good enough? Good luck to you.
    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. My husband is a member of SEIU and I supported them as the proud wife of a union member and as grassroots activist on the ground. Not anymore. I cannot support an organization that would literally turn it’s back on it’s members. Hundreds of thousands of low wage workers put their jobs on the line to support SEIU’s #fightfor15 over the past 2 years, some were actually fired, and with this one endorsement SEIU leadership told them that none of that matters, that hey will have to #settlefor12by202. They have shown that only thing that matters is the lust for power and influence within a clearly corrupt system. I will never lift a finger for SEIU again and I have considered asking my husband to abandon his union membership.

    1. David Lutrin · · Reply

      Even though it was a bad endorsement, your husband needs to stay union strong and not give up his union membership. Besides, Bernie is going to be our next president. Get out there and volunteer for Bernie Sanders; he needs your support.

  3. Unions and incumbent legislators are in be with the establishment status quo. I hope they get fucked.

  4. In summary – there is a failure to focus on the issues. Expanded Social Security, Single payer Medicare for all, $15. Minimum Wage, Death Penalty, Cease involvement in foreign episodes of no consequence to U.S. interests – and others. Bernie Sanders is and has been on board correctly on all these issues.- Clinton has not.

    Chester Just – President – Democratic Progressive Caucus of Boward County
    LegalMr@aol.com

  5. Hillary Clinton is no less a REPUBLICAN than George W. Bush. She will diminish Social Security to the point of irrelevance in a heartbeat. She will obviously commit the military likewise. Yet her decision making has been entirely about what is most beneficial for her one way or the other throughout her career. Think about all of the poor decisions she has made… Voting to invade Iraq… inattentive to what was happening in Benghazi… OWNED by Wall Street… Member Corporate Board of WalMart Corp. Concocting WHOPPERS like landing in Bosnia under SNIPER FIRE!!!!! You trust this self serving individual? I don’t….

  6. When you say “the union movement has in recent years seized to be about working class Americans” it seems you intended to use the word “ceased” as in “brought to an end” not “seized” as in “grasped”.

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