Democratic Illinois Secretary of State candidate Alexi Giannoulias bagged the endorsement of the political arm of the union representing thousands of workers in the office, providing the former state treasurer with money and volunteers for what’s expected to be a heated primary race.
The Service Employees International Union Illinois State Council functions as the labor organization’s political arm and represents the union’s 150,000 workers scattered across its various branches — 2,600 of them working at secretary of state facilities.
The council, which voted unanimously to endorse Giannoulias, includes SEIU Locals 1 and 73 and SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana. SEIU Local 1 and SEIU Healthcare have an ownership stake in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Tom Balanoff, president of Local 1, said in a statement Giannoulias “understands what critical issues are most important to the hard working families across our state.”
“His demonstrated support for worker rights and his clear understanding of the Secretary of State’s office make him the undisputed choice for Illinois’ working families,” Balanoff said. “The janitors, security officers and thousands of others united in SEIU Local 1 look forward to working with him to achieve a more equitable and progressive future for our state.”
Dian Palmer, the head of SEIU Local 73, said of the endorsement “our members understand the importance of continuing Jesse White’s legacy under Alexi’s leadership and that we cannot afford to sit this election out.”
Palmer’s branch of the union represents 2,600 workers, or more than half of all secretary of state’s office employees, according to a news release announcing the endorsement.
The union hasn’t shied away from pumping money into races previously. In 2018, its political action committee gave $55,400 to the campaign of Secretary of State Jess White, who opted not to seek another term.
Eric Bailey, the communications director for SEIU Local 73, said what the support means in terms of contributions and boots on the ground is still being worked out.
“As we get closer to the election in 2022, SEIU will determine how best to allocate resources to all endorsed candidates,” Bailey said.
Giannoulias said in a statement he’s “honored” to have the endorsement, which has come earlier than previous seals of approval by the council.
“Middle-class families will have an ally in the Secretary of State’s office who will fight to empower workers and fight on their behalf,” the former Illinois treasurer’s statement said in part. “I will serve as a Secretary of State who reflects our shared values, delivers on promises and works to restore our faith and trust in government.”
The Southern Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association, which represents 22 downstate counties, endorsed Giannoulias earlier this month.
That endorsement followed Locals 881 and 1546 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union throwing their support behind Giannoulias. Fourteen locals of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have also endorsed Giannoulias’ bid for the office.
In addition to Giannoulias, Democrats vying to succeed White include Ald. David Moore (17th), Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia, state Sen. Michael Hastings and Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd).