February 15th, 2008
01:02 PM ET
7 years ago

Powerful union backs Obama

(CNN) – One of the nation’s strongest unions, the Service Employees International Union, endorsed Barack Obama for president Friday.

The union’s support comes with a massive grassroots voter outreach effort that is a huge force in Democratic politics. That operation will now work on Obama’s behalf nationwide, including the major primary state battlegrounds of Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.

In a conference call with reporters, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger said the union would immediately begin help mobilize its members and resources on the ground in Wisconsin, which votes on Tuesday.

“When we do an endorsement, we take it seriously,” said Burger.

Earlier in the cycle, John Edwards had wooed many SEIU locals, which endorsed his presidential bid. But the national leadership resisted pressure to back a candidate, saying they would remain neutral through the primary season.

Three sources familiar with the deliberations told CNN’s John King Thursday that union leaders had met via conference call that day to deliberate on the endorsement issue – and that Obama had emerged as the overwhelming consensus choice of state and national leadership.

“We have an enormous amount of respect for Sen. Clinton, and appreciate so much what she’s done for us," union president Andy Stern said Friday.

But he cited "excitement" among the union’s 1.9 million members as the major reason for their decision to endorse Obama – a nod that would supplant the state-by-state endorsements by their locals. He did not deny that recent vote results, most of which had favored Obama, had been a factor in the shift.

Thursday, Obama received another major labor endorsement likely to help in those delegate rich-states, when the 1.3-million member United Food and Commercial Workers Union decided to back his presidential bid.

Clinton recently received a major union nod, when the United Farm Workers decided  last month  to back her White House run.

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Realist

    One more reason not to back Obama, he has the endorsement of corrupt, greedy, and out of touch union members.

    February 15, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Marcellus (DC)

    Great New!!! This should help with the under 50k voters in Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania....

    February 15, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Chris from Grand Rapids

    Didn't help much in Nevada? As far as I'm concerned on that, she had a big lead in most polls leading into Nevada and was supposed to win the state by a good margin. The fact of the matter is he gained more delegates but had approximately 600 less votes than her. Tell me how the endorsement didn't mean much? Her campaign was so afraid of it that they called foul when the state was considering to let Casino workers vote in their Casinos of employment, which obviously was the main group of people in the endorsement.

    February 15, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Angie

    Nevada was basically a Las Vegas/Reno city wide endorsement. This one is national. This is huge and could shift these big states to Obama!

    February 15, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. fred

    “When we do an endorsement, we take it seriously,” said Burger.

    And wehn they need something in Washinton, Obama better deliver!

    Of course these beg endorsements have nothing to do with the "Change" that is being preached from the Obama pulpit.

    These big lobbyists will get no favors from Obama...right!?!?!?

    February 15, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    obama is great man,he is honest ,hardworking,leader and a person who can die for his country ,l belive obama is teh best candidate.and is teh only candidate who can make diffrences in george bush mess!!

    February 15, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. meg d

    This endorsment means nothing ,look at Nevada !!!!!!!!!!!!
    Talk is CHEAP, experience means more.........

    February 15, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  8. Boomer for Obama

    ...other endorsements today were the mayor of Austin andCongressman Brian Baird...same reasons: the ability to get beyond divisive politics and get the things done...

    February 15, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. observer#1

    As a union member, I will take into consideration who has been endorsed but the voting booth will only accomodate one, no one tells me how to use that vote. Nevada was a good training ground.

    February 15, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Donna F

    How lucky for him, Is this the same one he ripped apart a few months ago in a debate....what did he promise them? What donations and promises will they want him to keep? I hope the members get to decide for themselves with no threats.

    February 15, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. Renee Moussougan

    I am so tired of hearing who has what endorsements. Please let the people decide. I do not want to hear speeches anymore I want solutions as to how I will pay for health care for my family or will we remove our troops out of Irac so that they can be with there families or how to keep American Safe. I see that everyone is so motivated by speeches these days and not looking at the bigger picture as to what canidate with help solve American budget issues. I surely would look to someone with experience to run this home of the free home of the brave wouldn't you? vote Hillary.

    February 15, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  12. Oromo Nation for Obama

    Obama is Global choice! He will make the world a better place for human Race! My nation, the Oromians are voting for Obama unconditionally. FM

    February 15, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. David for Obama 08'

    Thank you to SEIU! Welcome aboard.

    Yes We Can!

    February 15, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. Texas

    SO WHAT!!!
    WHAT GOOD DID THAT DO FOR HIM IN CALIFORNIA AND NEVADA!

    CNN YOU FAIL TO MENTION THE TEACHERS UNION NURSING UNION FARMING UNIONS ECT..FOR CLINTON...WHERE ARE THOSE AND THE MANY MORE IMPORTANT ONES U FAIL TO MENTION??

    February 15, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Hillary

    I'm supporting Hillary 100%

    February 15, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Las mascaras de la nada

    Liberal is as liberal does...

    February 15, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. Mike

    Obama is about hype not hope. How can he attack Hillary on anything when she was his mentor? After a few senatorial lessons he is now ready to run the country? I like the buy personally and think I would like to vote him in after Hillary has been president. I would even like him to be vice president under Hillary and then president later. He just needs experience.

    If he becomes president there is going to be a big thud in Washington. The sound of a man that was elected by beauty contest standards and has no idea what to really do.

    February 15, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Cynthia, Laguna Niguel, CA

    And he is blaming Mrs. Clinton for Lobiest donations!!!!!

    Go Hillary Go Hillary-08

    February 15, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Blueray98

    This is just another example of how media-boy Obama gets all of the attention, when the big endorsements for Hillary are relegated to the sidelines at best, or not even mentioned. Please CNN, let us have more fair and balanced news, not more glowing endorsements for Obama. People, do the right thing - vote Hillary Clinton! She's the best.

    February 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. TerryD

    I would love to leave my opinion but because I am a great support of Hillary R Clinton. When I submit my comment it does not reach the blog.

    How sad for you CNN that you do not post all opinions. I thought that was the joy and freedom of a blog.

    But it is out there in the universe, so here's to you future
    President Hillary R Clinton.

    February 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  21. Adam

    This should be about as effective as the John Kerry endorsement... LOL!

    HILLARY 08!!!!!!!!!!

    February 15, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. Rose, MD

    Please guys we have come a long way since the beginning of the primaries. Obama has now been exposed to many people. whether we like it or not he is gaining grounds and we just don't know what is going to happen in the next primaries. You cannot compare nevada time and this time.

    Hillary with her boxing gloves, what is she going to do if she doesn't win the must win states?

    February 15, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  23. Mr. Los Angeles

    I love the racist innuendos being hinted towards Sen. Obama

    Pullpit? Preaching? We shall overcome?

    You people on this board ought to be ashamed.
    Don't hate because his rhetoric is captivating and his substance makes sense.

    As a healthcare administrator, trust me in that Sen. Clinton's proposal for universal healthcare will not happen for another 20 years.
    American is still racist, what makes you think the upper eshilon 300k+ and working people 40k+ would pay insurance for those who are unemployed (need I remind you, most of the unemployed are Black and Latino)? Get real...

    We haven't even payed off our loans for financing this war yet; so how will we TRULY afford universal healthcare. Don't be silly America.
    That sounds like false hope to me; "universal halthcare" as far as i'm concerned is a token policy to get elected.

    Post this!

    February 15, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. CHERYL

    THIS IS MORE OF OPRAHS MONEY!

    BUYING HUSSIEN YET ANOTHER ENDORSEMENT!

    I WONDER?

    IS OPRAH GOING TO COME IN AND CLEAN UP AFTER HE SCREWS EVERYTHING UP?

    HE WILL NEVER GET ELECTED! THE REPUBLICANS WILL RUIN HIM!

    HE WILL NOT TAKE HILLARY'S PEOPLE BECAUSE WE ARE PISSED!!!!!

    I WILL NOT VOTE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS SO WRONG FOR THE JOB!!!!!!

    GO HILLARY WE NEED YOU!!!!!!!!!!

    February 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  25. Ginny CA

    Obama is up to his eyeballs in corporate and lobbyist campaign contributions. You can research his ties to Rezko and Exelon for starters.

    February 15, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
1 2 3