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Friday | August 29, 2003

SEIU's endorsement key to Dean, Gep

The SEIU is the largest union in the nation, and has become ground zero for Gep's efforts to capture the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.

The AFL-CIO will only endorse a primary candidate if he or she garners the endorsements of 2/3rds of its member unions (with votes proportional to membership size).

The SEIU has been leaning Dean, while AFSCME (the nation's second-largest union) has been leaning Kerry. Gephardt needs both of those to earn the AFL-CIO endorsement.

So all eyes will be on the SEIU on September 8-10, when it should announce its endorsement. If it rewards Gep for his solid support of labor issues in the past, then Gep will be in seriously good shape heading into the primaries (with that AFL-CIO endorsement under his belt). But if Dean gets it, he'll have the nation's largest union, the most diverse, and the one with the sharpest political operation (especially in NY and CA).

Gephardt is the frontrunner for the CWA endorsement, but Dean wined and dined them in Chicago, and the work may be paying off. From a labor source:

Don't know who we're going to endorse.  I think Gephardt has a lot of loyalty, but Dean signed one of our carrier switch pledges in front of the convention and then demonstrated today at a Verizon Wireless store, so he's looking pretty good to us right now. 
The CWA is the nation's 5th largest union.

Update: From another highly placed labor source with some insight into labor politics:

I instinctively believe, without any evidence, that Nathan Newman has hit it on the head--a three way quasi-endorsement of Gep, Dean, and Kerry for SEIU.  Andy Stern, SEIU prez, is incredibly shrewd.  The best way for him to maintain maximum influence at this point and to keep his eye on the his main goal--denying Gep the full Federation endorsement--is probably not to come out 100% for one of the other candidates, but to appear open to any of the big three lib-lefties--he'll have more influence with undecided unions voting on the Gephardt endorsement by showing that kind of flexibility. 

But keep this mind:  not withstanding some of your more literal minded posters, there is no way in hell that Gep will get the full Federation endorsement if both AFSCME and SEIU are opposed--sure that only about 23%, but, believe me, they will not oppose the endorsement without having lined up the other union votes need to get to 1/3--that's how the AFL-CIO executive council works, there are no surprises once the final vote happens.

Now if only someone with this level of insight would start a blog focused on union politics. I find this stuff fascinating.

Posted August 29, 2003 10:14 AM | Comments (92)


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