As the healthcare-heavy Service Employees International Union rolls out a $50 million accountability campaign to capitalize on its election victories, reforming the costs of care and expanding unionization for industry workers are high on its list of priorities.
The SEIU, whose 2 million members are concentrated in healthcare, public employment and property services, intends to spend about 30% of its resources in 2009 on the Change that Works campaign, including 1,000 full-time workers in the field in 35 states and the creation of a war room in Washington to coordinate legislative outreach.
Andy Stern, president of the SEIU, said in a conference call with reporters that the new campaign is intended to create laws to support the unions agenda by holding accountable the elected officials who received SEIU support in elections last year. Winning an election only provides the opportunity for change, Stern said.
In addition to supporting President-elect Barack Obamas proposals to offer public health insurance to citizens regardless of income, the SEIU is strongly urging passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which observers say would make forming unions far easier for supporters.
The SEIU is also supporting an economic recovery package that includes increases in the federal medical assistance percentages that would boost federal funding and help states avoid trimming their Medicaid programs, union spokeswoman Lori Lodes said. -- by Joe Carlson
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