Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SEIU Rules MoFos

State of the Union
How the SEIU’s expanding its ranks in the South -- and fighting for better immigration policy.
By Nelson Harvey
American Prospect

In San Antonio, organizers for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are gathering commitment cards from city and county employees. In Houston, union negotiators are preparing to bargain on behalf of some 5,300 janitors. And in Washington last week, Eliseo Medina was smiling.

That’s because Medina, the executive vice president of SEIU, is at the helm of the nation’s largest labor union, which in recent months has launched aggressive recruitment and bargaining campaigns in ten southern and southwestern states. The campaigns, which stretch from Nevada to the Florida panhandle, are part of a larger effort to revitalize the labor movement in regions that have been historically hostile to organized labor.

"We live in a country right now where workers feel like they're under siege,"
said Medina, who met with reporters in the Capitol last week to outline the union's long-term strategy for affecting change on labor and immigration issues. The key, according to Medina, lies in 17 states that at first glance seem like unlikely targets for a resurgence of labor.

"These are the growing states, in terms of population," he said. "They are all 'right to work' states. And all but Nevada has a union membership of two to four percent."


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