NPR logo Profile: Service Employees International Union

Profile: Service Employees International Union

A poster from an SEIU-funded campaign from the organization's Web site. SEIU hide caption

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The Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, draws 2 million members from the service sector — from health care workers and social workers to janitors and window cleaners. In 2005, SEIU broke away from the AFL-CIO to form part of a new labor federation, Change to Win.

SEIU endorsed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for president during the primaries. So far, it is one of the biggest spenders on TV time among independent groups, buying an estimated $3.2 million worth of ads in the first half of 2008.

In June, SEIU announced plans to invest $85 million in key swing states in support of Obama and pro-labor congressional candidates.

The union says its election-season effort will include 100,000 members volunteering their time; paid advertising; voter registration drives; and a $10 million campaign after the elections to hold politicians accountable for their health care policy promises.

In addition to running its own anti-John McCain TV ads, the SEIU has also made major contributions to 527s such as the Fund for America, which distributed money to other pro-Democratic groups. (Fund for America was also located at SEIU headquarters).

To see a chart of SEIU's political influence and connections, click here.

As a union, SEIU is a 501(c)(5). In addition to its national efforts, SEIU advocates for workers through more than 300 local affiliates.

Funders: Its own union members

Leadership: Andy Stern, Anna Burger, Mary Kay Henry, Gerry Hudson, Eliseo Medina, Tom Woodruff, Gina Glantz, Juan Marcos Vilar, Khalid Pitts, Robert Hauptman. Read profiles of these leaders in the Secret Money Project's directory of key leaders of independent groups.

Will Evans is a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, NPR's partner in the Secret Money Project.

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