Obama Snags Endorsement Illinois Service Workers Union

Monday, October 15th 2007, 2:26 pm
By: News On 6

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama picked up the endorsement Monday of the Illinois and Indiana chapters of the Service Employees International Union, while rival John Edwards picked up the support of a smaller SEIU chapter in the early voting state of Iowa.

Tom Balanoff, president of the SEIU Illinois State Council, cited Obama's commitment to expanding access to affordable health care and to protecting workers' rights as among the biggest reasons for his union's early endorsement. He also cited Obama's early opposition to the Iraq War.

The Illinois and Indiana state chapters have about 170,000 members total.

Meanwhile, Edwards received the endorsement of the 2,000-member Iowa chapter of the SEIU, a campaign official said.

Top aides to Edwards argue that the clout from this latest labor endorsement could make the difference in a low-turnout contest such as Iowa's leadoff precinct caucuses, which are likely to be decided by about 100,000 activists.

``There is nothing more important than organizing on the ground,'' said Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, who runs Edwards' campaign in Iowa. ``All of these members have a network across the state.''

``Make no mistake about it, everybody tried very hard to get this endorsement,'' said former Rep. David Bonier, Edwards' national campaign manager. ``The commitment here is deep.''

Edwards was stung last week by the national SEIU when leaders said it would not endorse a candidate for the primary elections, letting its members make their decisions on a state-by-state basis.

An official for the Illinois SEIU said Monday that the union would urge its members to campaign in neighboring Iowa for Obama. However, union officials later acknowledged that would violate national SEIU rules.

Under those rules, individual state chapters may endorse presidential candidates, but campaigning must be limited to that state or the states of other chapters that have endorsed the same candidate.