CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Since the early days of the Republican primary, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been taking occasional shots at organized labor. Mary Kay Henry, head of the 2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said she believes Romney isn’t merely paying lip service to the business community when he knocks “union bosses.”
“I think he’s totally serious — he wants to take us out,” said Henry, who will speak Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention here. “I think he understands that workers being able to join together and have an organization is the best check against corporate power in the economy, and the best way for us to have a vibrant democracy is for workers to be able to bargain over their wages.”
As in every election year, unions like the SEIU play a critical role for Democrats in mobilizing voters at the local level in the run-up to November. And thanks to changes in election law after the 2010 Citizens United decision, union members are now allowed to knock on the doors of non-union households, extending their reach.
Henry told The Huffington Post that SEIU members are knocking on some 10,000 doors a day in 11 battleground states and that the union asked each of its members to reach out to 10 people — family, friends or neighbors — to make the case for President Barack Obama’s reelection. The union has so far spent about $5 million on all federal races this cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and it has joined the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, in rolling out Spanish-language ads in Florida and Nevada dinging Romney on immigration.