Service Employees International Union | WIKIPEDIA | MAY 23, 2017
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is a labor union representing almost 1.9 million workers in over 100 occupations in the United States and Canada. SEIU is focused on organizing workers in three sectors: health care (over half of members work in the health care field), including hospital, home care and nursing home workers; public services (local and state government employees); and property services (including janitors, security officers and food service workers).
The union is known for its strong support for Democratic candidates. It spent $28 million supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. In 2012, SEIU was the top outside spender on Democratic campaigns, reporting almost $70 million of campaign donations, television ads and get-out-the-vote efforts in support of President Obama and other Democrats. SEIU is a major supporter of the Affordable Care Act and of increased minimum wage laws, including wage increases for fast food workers. The union is the primary backer of the Fight for $15.
The SEIU was founded in 1921 in Chicago as the Building Services Employees Union (BSEU); its first members were janitors, elevator operators, and window washers. The union’s membership increased significantly with a 1934 strike in New York City‘s Garment District. In order to reflect its increasingly diversified membership, in 1968 the union renamed itself Service Employees International Union. In 1980 through 1984, most of the SEIU’s growth came from mergers with four other unions, including the International Jewelry Workers Union and the Drug, Hospital, and Health Care Employees Union.
In 1995, SEIU President John Sweeney was elected president of the AFL–CIO, the main confederation of labor unions in the United States. After Sweeney’s departure, former social worker Andrew Stern was elected president of SEIU. In the first ten years of Stern’s administration, the union’s membership grew rapidly and the SEIU became the largest union in the AFL-CIO.
In 2003, SEIU was a founding member of the New Unity Partnership, an organization of unions that pushed for a greater commitment to organizing unorganized workers into unions. In 2005, SEIU was a founding member of the Change to Win Coalition, which furthered the reformist agenda, criticizing the AFL-CIO for focusing its attention on electoral politics, instead of encouraging organizing in the face of decreasing union membership. These differences boiled over on the eve of the 2005 AFL-CIO convention, as the SEIU and Teamsters announced that they were disaffiliating from the AFL-CIO. The Change to Win Federation held its founding convention in September 2005, where SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger was announced as the organization’s chair.
In the following decade, several Change to Win members disaffiliated and re-joined the AFL-CIO, leaving SEIU, the Teamsters, and the United Farm Workers as the remaining members. The SEIU’s decision to break away from the AFL-CIO is considered controversial by some labor experts. After the disaffiliation, the SEIU continued to experience significant growth in membership. Stern stepped down as president of SEIU in 2010, and was replaced by Mary Kay Henry, a long-time organizer and staff member at the union, and its first female president.
Presidents of SEIU
- William Quesse (1921–1927)
- Oscar Nelson (1927)
- Jerry Horan (1927–1937)
- George Scalise (1937–1940)
- William McFetridge (1940–1960)
- David Sullivan (1960–1971)
- George Hardy (1971–1980)
- John Sweeney (1980–1995; former president of the AFL–CIO)
- Richard Cordtz (1995–1996)
- Andy Stern (1996–2010)
- Mary Kay Henry (2010–present)
Unions throw millions at data firm accused of breaking election law | WATCHDOG | FEB 24, 2015
Labor unions have paid Catalist, a consulting firm accused of illegal coordination with hundreds of Democratic campaigns, more than $10 million since 2007. Conservative nonprofit Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against the company last week. The complaint alleges Catalist LLC, the Democratic National Committee and more than 300 Democrat campaigns have broken federal election law.
A “progressive” data and technology vendor based in Washington, D.C., Catalist is backed by the National Education Association (NEA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the AFL-CIO and its member unions — because of its ideological goals and its ties to the Democratic Party.
Catalist founder Harold Ickes is a former deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and an adviser to the Ready for Hillary super PAC. Catalist founder Laura Quinn is a former deputy chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore.
The company is not shy about its political objectives. Catalist’s mission is to “provide progressive organizations with the data and services needed to better identify, understand, and communicate with the people they need to persuade and mobilize.”
AFL-CIO Political Director Michael Podhorzer co-chairs Catalist’s board of managers. NEA Political Director Karen White and SEIU Executive Vice President Kirk Adams are Catalist board members.
As The Washington Free Beacon first reported, Catalist may have frequently violated laws restricting coordination between political committees and outside groups.
In addition to selling contact list access and related services to Democrat campaigns, Catalist and NGP VAN — another data firm named in the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust complaint — work with unions and other activist groups.
Catalist and its various clients share one goal: electing Democrats. SEIU bosses credited Catalist with President Obama’s election and other Democrat victories in 2008.
“Catalist provided data services to SEIU and a substantial majority of the progressive and political communities in the 2008 election,” a 2009 SEIU report explained.
“Because Catalist users uploaded IDs from much of their voter contact work to the Catalist database, they were able to compile an increasingly more accurate picture of the American electorate,” the report continued.
The company has provided Democrat campaigns with “excessive, source-prohibitied, and unreported in-kind contributions,” has exchanged campaign and Democratic Party data “with soft money groups making independent expenditures” and is “established, financed, maintained and/or controlled” by the Democratic Party, FACT asserted in its FEC complaint.
“This is a politically-motivated filing without merit,” Catalist spokeswoman Amy Weiss said in an email response to a Watchdog.org inquiry.
Materials from secretive leftist donor network Democracy Alliance obtained by the Free Beacon suggest DA sees for-profit data vendors as a way to skirt campaign finance law. DA and left-wing billionaire George Soros have been Catalist supporters since the company’s 2006 launch.
“Mr. Soros and other alliance donors were early investors in Catalist, and many of the groups funded by the alliance now buy data from it,” The New York Times noted in a 2013 story.
Although NEA, SEIU and AFL-CIO are not named in the FEC complaint against Catalist, they and other unions have paid the firm $10,473,521 since 2007. Unions also are key donors to DA’s “Committee on States” project.
Unions have paid Catalist more than $1 million each year since 2009. In 2012 alone, unions paid Catalist $1,753,497.
Based on their annual reports to the U.S. Department of Labor, these labor unions have made payments to Catalist:
- AFL-CIO: $3,110,629
- NEA: $2,965,542
- SEIU: $1,954,600
- United Food & Commercial Workers: $1,083,500
- Change to Win: $840,000
- American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees: $438,750
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters: $80,500
Of the payments to Catalist reported, $590,000 from Change to Win and $188,500 from UFCW were filed as “Representational Activities.” In the 26 states without right-to-work laws, unions can take money for representational activities from nonmembers as a condition of employment.
Change to Win is a coalition led by SEIU, whose membership includes hundreds of thousands of public-sector workers. AFL-CIO’s largest affiliates are AFSCME and American Federation of Teachers, which are both public-sector unions.
NEA, the largest labor union in the country, represents public school teachers and had nearly 3 million members as of Aug. 31.
Board of Managers | CATALIST | MAY 23, 2017
Kirk Adams, Director, Healthcare Education Project
As of October 2015, Kirk Adams has served as the Director of the Healthcare Education Project (HEP). Prior to becoming Director of HEP, Adams was the International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and led the work of SEIU Healthcare, which represents more than one million nurses, doctors and healthcare workers across North America.
A long-time organizer and political activist, he began organizing workers with the United Labor Unions in 1980, which in 1984 affiliated with SEIU. Kirk organized low-wage workers in Boston, Detroit and New Orleans, and spent years helping healthcare workers earn a voice on the job in Beverly nursing homes in Texas, and hospitals in the South, the Northwest and California. In 1987, his work in Los Angeles led to the first union victory for consumer-directed home care workers in the country and 72,000 home care workers won a voice on the job. In 1989, he left SEIU to help run Ann Richards’ successful gubernatorial campaign and served as her political director until 1994. Kirk returned to organizing for the union when Richards left office, and in 1997 served as southern regional director and later organizing director for the AFL-CIO.
Adams was tapped to serve as Chief of Staff of SEIU in 2000 and in 2007 became Division Director of SEIU Healthcare, playing a critical role in the passage of healthcare reform. Kirk once again served as Chief of Staff once Mary Kay Henry was elected International President in 2010 before resuming his previous position as Division Director of SEIU Healthcare later that year. He was elected in September 2011 to serve as International Executive Vice President of SEIU. In 2015, he was named by Modern Healthcare one of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare.