Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

President Obama and priority phone calls

If you are wondering where unions fall in President Obama’s hierarchy of people he needs to stay in contact with and phone calls he needs to return:

The night before Barack Obama became President of the United States he made two phone calls to a man named, Tom Balanoff. Balanoff is the President of SEIU (Service Employees Int’l Union) Local 1 in Chicago. Obama’s first call to Balanoff went unanswered because his number came up as “blocked” on Balanoff’s cell phone. Balanoff was in the middle of a fancy dinner with the former SEIU Int’l President, Andy Stern, at Shaw’s Crab House in downtown Chicago. When Balanoff listened to the voicemail, this is what he heard: “Tom, this is Barack. Give me a call.”

Later that night, Tom Balanoff was filling his car up with gas when he spoke to Barack Obama. Obama told Balanoff he had “two criteria” for the person who would replace him in the US Senate, after Obama got elected President. Today in court, Tom Balanoff testified Obama explained his “two criteria” this way: “One, they must be good for citizens of Illinois and two, the person had to be able to be reelected” (in 2010). Balanoff says, Obama told him there were a “number of good candidates” but Obama said he did not want to get involved in the process. Balanoff says Obama brought up the name of his close friend and campaign advisor, Valerie Jarrett.

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