We’ve been covering the SEIU’s troubling role in lobbying Obama administration to withhold $6.8 billion in stimulus funding to California. As part of the state’s budget deal, Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislature agreed to cut pay for home health workers (who are SEIU members) by two dollars an hour, totaling $74 million.
The SEIU, enraged by this move, protested to the Obama administration. Much to the concern of California officials, the Obama administration officials actually invited the SEIU to participate in a conference call between federal and state government officials.
ABC News followed up on this incident with their own report, which featured a noteworthy observation by a spokeswoman for the California Department of Health and Human Services: “This is an unusual situation. It is incredibly unusual in our experience to have stakeholders on a call like this.”
A SEIU spokeswoman offers an audiacious defense of the call, claiming that “when it came time for a call, all the parties involved were included. This is an example of transparency.” It’s doubtful that the SEIU would say the same thing if a corporation with their contract at stake was invited to participate on a conference call with government officials.
This episode makes clear that the SEIU – and labor in general – can and will exert influence with the Obama administration.