Election 2008 will forever be remembered as an historic, transformational point in US history. The American people voted overwhelmingly for change as men and women of all different backgrounds across this nation sent a clear message: it is time to create a new American Dream.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) played a critical role in the success of the newly elected president Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden, as well as candidates at all levels of government who are committed to improving the lives of working families. From deploying member political organizers to battleground states to register and educate people to producing ads that highlighted the difference between candidates on issues of concern to lower income and middle class voters, SEIU was a driving force in victories for working families all over the country.
SEIU Members Helped Win Big Victories for Working Families across the Country
- SEIU members helped win 83% of the key states, races and ballot measures that SEIU committed their time, money and political resources to make a difference for working families.
- Barack Obama and Joe Biden won 17 of the 19 states that SEIU targeted, with one state still undecided but leaning toward Obama/Biden.
- SEIU members helped pro-working family Senate candidates win in 6 of 8 targeted races (75%).
- SEIU members helped pro-working family House candidates win in 21 of 27 targeted races (78%).
- Six of eight (75%) SEIU-backed Senate candidates in key battleground states who support Employee Free Choice prevailed, despite being targeted by a more than $20 million campaign by corporate interests that never caught on with voters. One of the eight races remains undecided.
- SEIU members helped pro-working family gubernatorial candidates win in three of four targeted races (75%), including those of Jay Nixon (MO), Beverly Perdue (NC) and Governor Christine Gregoire (WA).
- SEIU members helped working families win new majorities in state houses across the country, including the Delaware House, the Ohio House, the Wisconsin Assembly, the New York Senate and the Nevada Senate. SEIU members also helped elect a supermajority in the Oregon House.
- SEIU members played indispensable roles in local races all over the country helping elect candidates who stand up for working families, such as Mark Ridley-Thomas in the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors race.
- SEIU members helped pass or helped to defeat eight of the main ballot measures that were targeted.
- SEIU members led and worked in coalitions that helped defeat anti-union ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon.
- SEIU members led efforts that passed Proposition B in Missouri by 75 percent. Proposition B will make it easier for elderly and disabled people who need care to remain in their homes. In Washington State, Initiative 1029 will improve training standards for long-term care workers and passed with a similar margin.
- In Massachusetts, SEIU members helped block a measure that would have denied the state the funds necessary to provide necessary services investments in infrastructure by eliminating the income tax.
- SEIU Member-Candidate program graduate Tami Green won reelection to the Washington State House of Representatives. Linda Rouse Sutton, also a graduate, won one of two At-Large County Commissioner seats in North Carolina's Lenoir County.
The 2008 Election must be read as a victory for working people and by working people. For almost two years, the voices of men and women who get up and go to work every day raised the stakes for this election. For SEIU members, this election has always been about the economy. It has always been about health care. It has always been about rebuilding the middle class. This election has always been about putting the American Dream back within the reach of middle class and low-income people who work hard and want to provide our kids and our grandkids with a better future.
SEIU's 2008 Political Program at a Glance
In the 2008 Election, more than 3,000 SEIU members, staff and local leaders voluntarily took time off the job to go into the field to work for change. Over the course of the campaign, an additional 100,000 nurses, janitors, child care providers and other workers volunteered after work and on weekends to ensure that Barack Obama, Joe Biden and pro-working family candidates and issues won on November 4th. SEIU Locals and State Councils in California, New York, Illinois and other non-targeted states contributed significant resources and deployed members to the battleground states, which made all the difference in giving Barack Obama the ground advantage in the campaign.
SEIU members and staff engaged union voters and the general public one-on-one throughout the election. Together they:
- knocked on 3,504,947 doors;
- made 16,539,038 phone calls;
- sent 5,125,378 pieces of mail;
- registered more than 227,000 new voters in battleground states and California;
- helped 10,992 voters vote early or by absentee;
- held 658 earned media events.
SEIU members also stepped up their political engagement and increased their commitment to SEIU's Committee on Political Education (COPE).
- SEIU members who are COPE contributors increased their average monthly contribution by 25 percent in this past year, to $4.22 per month.
- An additional 4,014 SEIU members enrolled as new COPE contributors this year with an average contribution level of $5.03 per month.
- SEIU members challenged all candidates to "Walk a Day in My Shoes" and learn what it is like to work and raise a family in today's economy. Twenty-one candidates took up the challenge and SEIU Local unions across the country adopted the program for their local candidates.
- More than 3,000 SEIU members, Local and International staff members were deployed to 20 states to help win for working families.
- More than 100,000 SEIU nurses, janitors, child care providers and other members volunteered after work and on weekends to win for working families.
November 4 marked a turning point for working families all across this country. While the past eight years were disaster for hardworking men and women who watched the American Dream slip out of their reach, the American spirit of progress never wavered. This election marks a new beginning, and this is our moment.
SEIU members are ready. We have a chance to put America on a new path, and SEIU members will help with the transition, establish a clear agenda to rebuild the middle class, fix our national health care system, give workers the freedom to join a union without intimidation and hold every politician accountable for the promises they have made to the hardworking families of this nation who have changed history.