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The Mechanics
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State Politics Fri Mar 05 2010

The Big Purple Dog Barks

The Chicago News Cooperative looks at the Service Employees International Union's state council and their growing importance in state and local politics.

SEIU was a major backer of Rod Blagojevich and the Democratic caucus in Springfield, and was the cash and manpower engine behind the 2007 challenges to incumbent alderman after the big box living wage ordinance fight. With CFL president Dennis Gannon easing out the door, SEIU State Council President Tom Balanoff is left standing as arguably the most high profile labor leaders in local politics.

The piece is worth a read for background on an organization that will undoubtedly have a large impact on the 2011 elections; though I would think they would have mentioned that the state council was a founding sponsor of Progress Illinois, which has done yeoman's work in reporting on complex state and regional policy issues.

An early supporter of Barack Obama's White House aspirations, the service employees union also backed the winners in the three highest-profile state primary races this year. Besides Mr. Quinn, it sided with Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for Mr. Obama's former United States Senate seat, and Toni Preckwinkle, who toppled Todd Stroger, the Cook County Board president.

"It was a good day for us," Tom Balanoff, president of the union's state council, said in an interview last week.

The union's successes culminated a long push for prominence that has seen it become the biggest financial contributor to Illinois political campaigns. Its campaign committees, which were only bit players in local politics a decade ago, have spent more than $10 million across Illinois in the past six years, a Chicago News Cooperative analysis of state campaign finance records found.

 
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Oh damn / March 6, 2010 11:24 AM

Yeah, the SEIU has done a great job. They've staked their entire future on pushing government run healthcare so that they can offload their healthare obligations onto the government balance sheet.

If it doesn't pass, they'll have to look to new tactics to fund the ponzi scheme.

The whole "growing importance" thing sounds just like the calls for decades of democrat rule after '08. This year's elections are going to be quite a counterbalance to that claim.

The name, SEIU, is toxic outside of progressive circles

Ramsin / March 7, 2010 1:26 PM

It's just a statement of fact, their "growing importance", not a value judgment. SEIU has enormous resources and an aggressive posture.

I think the millions of Illinoisans who are either members of SEIU or families of members would probably disagree about the toxicity, and most people outside of the #tcots think SEIU is Southeastern Illinois University.

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