Labor Union Unveils $150M campaign 02/27 06:17
One of the nation's largest labor unions is unveiling plans to invest $150
million in a nationwide campaign to help defeat President Donald Trump, a
sweeping effort focused on eight battleground states and voters of color who
typically don't vote.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- One of the nation's largest labor unions is unveiling
plans to invest $150 million in a nationwide campaign to help defeat President
Donald Trump, a sweeping effort focused on eight battleground states and voters
of color who typically don't vote.
The investment marks the largest voter engagement and turnout operation in
the history of the Service Employees International Union, which claims nearly 2
million members. The scope of the campaign, which quietly launched last month
and will run through November's general election, reflects the urgency of what
union president Mary Kay Henry calls "a make-or-break" moment for working
people in America under Trump's leadership.
"He's systematically unwinding and attacking unions. Federal workers rights
have been totally eviscerated under his watch," Henry said in an interview. "We
are on fire about the rules being rigged against us and needing to elect people
that are going to stand with workers."
The union's campaign will span 40 states and target 6 million voters focused
largely in Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania,
Virginia and Wisconsin, according to details of the plan shared with The
Associated Press. The union and its local members will pay particular attention
to two key urban battlegrounds they believe will play a defining role in the
2020 general election: Detroit and Milwaukee. There may be some television
advertising, but the investment will focus primarily on direct contact and
online advertising targeting minority men and women who typically don't vote.
Few groups of voters will be more important in the 2020 general election.
Trump won the presidency four years ago largely because of his popularity with
working-class whites and a drop-off in turnout from minority voters.
The union's political director, Maria Peralta, noted that Trump's campaign
has been working effectively in recent months to win over some minority voters,
particularly men, who have traditionally voted Democratic.
"He's going after our communities in ways that are pervasive. We're deeply
aware of that," Peralta said. "They're talking about the strength of the
The Service Employees International Union, like the Democratic Party and its
allies across the nation, faces significant headwinds in its fight to deny
Trump a second term. Voters who may dislike his overall job performance are
generally pleased with his leadership on the economy, and unemployment for
black Americans has hit record lows in recent months.
At the same time, Trump's campaign is far ahead of where it was four years
ago, when it had little national organization.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign announced plans to open 15 "Black Voices
for Trump Community Centers" in battleground states and major cities, including
Michigan and Wisconsin. The offices will feature a line of campaign swag
adopting the "woke" label, and videos of prominent Trump surrogates like online
stars Diamond and Silk explaining their support for the president and pamphlets
outlining the president's record.
SEIU is the most diverse union in the United States. The union's membership
features those who work in health care, food service, janitorial services and
state and local government workers, among others. Half its members are people
of color, and more than half make less than $15 an hour.
The 2020 investment is designed to benefit Democrats up and down the ballot
this fall, though defeating Trump stands as a primary goal.
That said, SEIU's political team has determined that a message simply
attacking Trump isn't effective with its target audience, which includes a
significant number of conservatives.
"We don't want to get too caught up in the Trump bashing," Peralta said.
"Data shows people care about wages, and they care about health care across the
The union also determined that it's particularly effective to highlight
Trump's work to weaken labor unions and conditions for working-class Americans.
After campaigning for a higher minimum wage, Trump has done little to raise
the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 for more than a decade.
His administration has also taken steps to make it harder for new groups of
workers to form unions. And labor officials have decried his appointments to
the National Labor Relations Board and the Supreme Court, which dealt a huge
blow to labor in 2018 by ruling that government workers no longer could be
required to pay union fees.
When asked, Henry had little to say about the specific Democratic
presidential contenders fighting for the chance to take on Trump. SEIU may
endorse a candidate in the coming months, she said, but it has decided to stay
out of the messy nomination fight for now.
"We're trying to figure out, inside our union as we walk through Super
Tuesday and through March, what do working people and our members think about
the choice in the field," Henry said.