Hillary Clinton picked up another major labor endorsement from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Tuesday, depriving a critical potential source of labor support from challenger Bernie Sanders.
SEIU is one of the nation’s largest unions with 2 million members in a wide range of industries, from home healthcare to janitors to security guards. It’s also one of the most politically involved unions, spending almost $24 million in the 2014 midterm election alone. It's also been one of Sanders’ largest contributors over his careers.
“As President, I will be proud to stand with SEIU and fight alongside them—to defend workers’ right to organize and unions’ right to bargain collectively, to raise incomes for working people and the middle class, and to ensure that hardworking Americans can retire with dignity and security,” Clinton said in a statement released by her campaign.
The SEIU said it arrived at the endorsement after a lengthy and intensive process, that includes a conference, three national tele-town hall meetings, three national member polls, and more than 200 local executive board debates and more. “SEIU members and working families across America are part of a growing movement to build a better future for their families, and Hillary Clinton will support and stand with the,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry.
Clinton touted that the SEIU has leading the fight for a $15 minimum wage, but supports raising the national minimum wage to $12 an hour, while encouraging cities to raise it higher.
Clinton has also locked down the endorsements of both of the nation’s major teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, as well as the government workers’ union AFSCME, among several others. Sanders has received labor endorsements from smaller unions.
Many unions admire Sanders but realize that Clinton has a better chance of winning the Democratic Party’s nomination and want to build strong relationships with her and her aides early.