Thursday, April 10, 2008

SEIU Endorses Schauer

Last month, both Mark Schauer and Sharon Renier competed for the endorsement of the SEIU Michigan State Council. SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, represents nearly 80,000 workers in Michigan in health care, state and local government, and building services. These aren't the flashy people who get all the headlines. These are the people who actually work for a living, making the essential services we rely on actually work.

Both Schauer and Renier participated in the "Walk A Day In My Shoes" program, in which each of them spent a work day alongside actual SEIU members, doing their jobs alongside them. In their press releases for each candidate's working experience, SEIU writes:
"Our decision to endorse a Congressional candidate will come directly from our members in the workplace," said Phil Thompson, SEIU Michigan State Council president and executive vice president of SEIU Local 517M. "SEIU members want to know that people running for office understand what it's like to do their jobs and walk a day in their shoes."

Marge Faville, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Healthcare Michigan and the Michigan State Council treasurer, said: "Our representatives in Congress must appreciate and understand what our members go through so they can carry our message to Capitol Hill. By standing shoulder-to-shoulder with workers, candidates for public office demonstrate that they are willing to earn our support."
Schauer spent his day in Adrian alongside Annette Freeman, a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Lenawee Medical Care Facility. Renier spent her day working with Denise Mazuk, a home care worker who cares for the elderly in the Battle Creek area.

Ultimately, the SEIU Michigan State Council chose to endorse Schauer. In their announcement, they explain:

“Our members firmly believe that Mark Schauer is the best candidate to represent the citizens of Michigan’s 7th District,” said Phil Thompson, SEIU Michigan State Council president and executive vice president of SEIU Local 517M. “He has a long, proven record of standing by working families, especially when it comes to providing access to quality and affordable health care.”


“Mark Schauer understands our values and our concerns and has been a strong advocate for working families,” said Marge Faville, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Healthcare Michigan and the Michigan State Council treasurer. “We are very impressed with Mark’s passion, dedication and firm grasp of the issues SEIU members care about.”

Faville said SEIU members were impressed with Schauer’s stances on the Iraq War and health care: “Mark Schauer has opposed the war from the beginning and he wants to bring our troops home as soon as possible. When they get home, he wants the troops — and every American — to have access to affordable, quality health care. Those two issues are extremely important to SEIU members, as they are to all Michiganders. Mark Schauer shares our members’ vision for a better Michigan and a stronger nation.”

Schauer, who served in the state House from 1996 before being elected to the state Senate in 2002, said: “I’m extremely honored to have the support of the SEIU Michigan State Council. The SEIU believes that Michigan’s working families deserve a voice in Washington and that it is time for a change. I share those beliefs and values, and I will carry them with me to Capitol Hill.”

Congratulations to Senator Schauer for the endorsement, and thank you to both Mark Schauer and Sharon Renier for taking the time to seek this endorsement. Thank you for choosing to spend time with the people whose lives you will affect should either of you be elected to Congress.

Which brings me to something from their announcement, which I find very telling:
To obtain the SEIU endorsement, Schauer and his opponent in the Democratic primary went through a multistep, member-driven process that included filling out a questionnaire on issues important to members and their families, participating in a candidate “meet and greet” with members and taking part in a “Walk A Day In My Shoes” event, where candidates spent a day working side-by-side with SEIU members. U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), the incumbent Congressman in the 7th District, did not respond to the SEIU’s invitation to participate in the endorsement process.
(Emphasis added.)

I know that SEIU is a union, and Congressman Walberg is a Republican, so the odds were slim to start with. But wouldn't it have been nice to see our representative choose to work alongside the men and women he represents, and try to convince their union that he really can bring about positive change? Even if it was a lost cause, that kind of effort would have meant a lot to me and to a lot of other people.

I suppose Walberg enjoys the company of his friends in the Club for Growth more.

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Tim Walberg is openly hostile to the existence of unions. He does not believe in the Constitution's guaranteed right of association. He believes that right ends at the factory door(or hospital, or wherever else we work) and he believes a business owner has every right to do whatever they want. I'd bet he is opposed to minimum wages, overtime pay and many of the other benefits secured for us by the unions of old.

Walberg's snubbing of the unions is no suprise. The sad thing is, the unions had a friend when Joe Schwarz was our congressperson and we blew it. Now we are left with no other option but to rally behind Schauer and try to take a pretty conservative district over with a very liberal candidate.
You hit the nail on the head. Schwarz was not a fan of unions, but understood and respected them and worked hard to keep laborers employed. He went to bat for AMTRAK workers, Kellogg workers and many other local workers. Schwarz may not have been "pro-union" but he was certainly pro-labor and stood up for the working class on many occasions.

Walberg on the other hand is an elitist and pawn of the plutocrats. If every worker who's job was on the line voted in 06, Schwarz would still be in office.
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