The 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced on Wednesday its unusually early endorsement of Barack Obama for re-election in 2012. Other than the timing, the statement by SEIU President Mary Kay Henry comes as no surprise, considering the longstanding alliance and increasing integration of the US trade unions into the big business Democratic Party.
However, that takes nothing away from the brazen and provocative character of Henry’s announcement, from the point of view of ordinary SEIU members, many of them low-paid health care and building cleaning workers, struggling to get by from paycheck to paycheck, as well as the rest of the working class.
The Obama administration has bailed out the banks and Wall Street at the expense of the population, presided over the slashing of wages in the auto industry, carried out massive budget cuts and proposes hundreds of billions more, continued and deepened its predecessor’s attack on democratic rights, continued the war in Iraq, escalated the neo-colonial intervention in Afghanistan, and spearheaded a neo-colonial war for regime-change in Libya. Obama’s current saber-rattling in Australia, where he proposes to station thousands of US troops, is a reckless act aimed at China and increases the danger of world war. His government has shown itself to be an obedient servant of the financial aristocracy.
None of this bothers Henry and the other leaders of the Change to Win and AFL-CIO union federations. The SEIU officialdom’s support for Obama makes perfect sense from its selfish vantage point. If one sets aside the hollow references to Henry and her fellow executives as “labor leaders,” and considers them as well-heeled business figures, the years of the first Obama administration have been good to them.