Saturday, July 30, 2005

There's an interesting article in today's Courier about the expanding influence of the SEIU.
The union has beefed up its involvement in city politics, giving the four winners in the April city council election a total of $7,500 and making automated phone calls on their behalf worth more than $6,400...That is thought to be a record level of spending by a single organization or individual in a recent Elgin municipal election.
The article says that 250 city workers are members of the SEIU. With the union being the primary campaign contributor, it makes you wonder if the city council can be expected to do what's best for Elgin and not what's best for city hall workers. Most of the time, the interests will be aligned, but I can think of situations where the interests would diverge. The city may, for example, find that outsourcing certain functions will create a leaner and more efficient city hall organization. That's something that the citizens of Elgin would want: a more efficient local government. The SEIU on the other hand will want to protect their jobs. Will the campaign support of the SEIU affect the votes of the council members? If the SEIU didn't think so, it wouldn't have given them the money. But I trust that our council members are people of integrity, and I give them the benefit of the doubt.

Another surprising fact revealed in the article is how much money was spent in the last council election:
Gilliam and Figueroa both came close to spending $30,000, with Gilliam going through almost $29,700 and Figueroa topping $29,600, the newly released records show.
Unfortunately, the article didn't say how much Noland's campaign spent. If it was materially less than the others, it is possible that his defeat is largely attributable to the SEIU.

The union also appears to have ambitions beyond the city council. Dan Rich, said to be the SEIU candidate, was in a tight primary battle against Mike Noland for the democratic nomination in the last election for state representative. Let's see if they'll put up another candidate against him in the next election.

Read the article.


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