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Union screening: Was she or wasn’t she? Candidate Maureen Reed and SEIU don’t agree

Javier Morillo, president of Local 26 of the Service Employees International Union, says that Dr. Maureen Reed’s campaign is “lying” when it says that she did not have a chance to screen with the SEIU.

Reed’s campaign manager, Jason Isaacson, uses just as strong a language in saying that she did NOT screen with the SEIU, which has endorsed state Sen. Tarryl Clark in the 6th Congressional  District race that likely will end in a DFL primary battle between the two women.

The winner will take on U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann  in next November’s election.

Just what constitutes a “screening” takes on some importance in this intra-party struggle because Reed is justifying her decision to go into a primary if she does not win party endorsement in part because she believes many unions jumped on the Clark bandwagon without ever giving Reed a chance to share her views with them.

Morillo is angry that the SEIU, one of the state’s most politically active unions, is being “used” as an excuse by Reed for to go to the primary.

SEIU did screen Reed, Morillo says.

Did not, Reed’s campaign contends.

So who’s right?

You be the judge.

On Sept. 9, Reed appeared before a group of union leaders representing the East Central Area Labor Council. One member of that body was from the SEIU. The screening was held at RJ’s America Grill in St. Cloud.

Morillo says that body represented the SEIU.

The Reed campaign knew there was an SEIU member on the interviewing board, “but that was not an SEIU process,” Isaacson said. “That’s not how they have screened candidates in the governor’s race.”

Counters Morillo in an email, “They can believe whatever they want, but the fact is this: The Reed campaign does not determine SEIU’s process. SEIU members and their elected representatives do. Candidates love our process when they get endorsed, they hate it when they don’t.”

Morillo also said that the union’s process can vary from race to race. In this case, he said it was the combination of Reed’s poor performance (from a union perspective) in St. Cloud on Sept. 9 and Clark’s favorable record with the union that led to the SEIU decision to endorse Clark.

“There was no reason to waste Dr. Reed’s time or ours and we went with who we felt was the better candidate, Sen. Tarryl Clark,” Morillo said in the email.

Isaacson is not buying that explanation.  He believes Reed never had a chance to be heard by the SEIU.

“I simply don’t believe that’s how one of the biggest unions in the state makes its decision,” he said. “Certainly, that’s not how they have handled screenings in the governor’s race.”

It should be noted that virtually all unions – those which have screened Reed and those that haven’t – have rallied behind Clark.

Reed makes it clear that she respects the unions that gave her a chance to be heard but then opted to side with Clark. She also makes it clear that her announcement late Wednesday that she’ll go to the primary does not mean she will not continue to seek DFL endorsement.

Morillo says Reed has every right to go to the primary, but . . .

“They know this is an unpopular decision with many Democrats who want a united front against Michele Bachmann and so they feel they need a scapegoat to explain their unpopular decision.” 

Reed was screened by the SEIU, he says.

Was not, the Reed campaign counters.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 12/03/2009 - 02:00 pm.

    That they have a big misunderstanding, OK. A dispute about the process, fine. But it seems both resorted quickly to accusing the other of lying. Maybe Godwin’s Law applies to charges of lying, not just Nazi references.

  2. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 12/03/2009 - 02:15 pm.

    I’m terribly sorry, but this is not any excuse for going on to the primary. SEIU can endorse any way they see fit, they can reasonably defer to a more local group for a local race (which is to say, “how they handled the governor’s race” is irrelevant).

    Let’s just say that Reed got her way at this point and a screening group was set up by the SEIU specifically to hear both of them. What would happen? Yes, I thought so.

    This routine benefits Bachmann at this point. If Reed wants a career at all, she should learn how to take one for the team. It may not seem “fair”, but whining isn’t going to help a thing.

  3. Submitted by Rhys Ledger on 12/03/2009 - 03:01 pm.

    Candidates like Maureen Reed make the decision about how much time to dedicate to screenings easy.

    As Political Director for Teamsters Local 120, I was introduced to Reed at a DNC event hosted by Governor Kane. When she inquired about the possibility of an endorsement, I told her that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would be a threshold issue. When she didn’t freely offer her position, I asked whether she would support EFCA. She replied that she would have to research the issue further before adopting a position.

    Reed’s non-response was all Teamsters Local 120, the largest Teamsters Local Union in Minnesota and the fifth largest in North America, needed to know before moving ahead with its endorsement of Tarryl Clark. Besides having voted in favor of a resolution supporting EFCA as Assistant Majority Leader of the State Senate, Clark has an excellent track record on a wide range of labor issues. From job creation to infrastructure investment, she has proven time and again to be an ally of the American middle class.

    If Maureen Reed or any other candidates are genuinely interested in gaining union endorsements, they might want to do their homework on labor issues. Otherwise, they shouldn’t feign surprise when unions like SEIU Local 26 and Teamsters Local 120 choose to endorse proven candidates who understand labor’s priorities.

  4. Submitted by Harry Melander on 12/03/2009 - 08:44 pm.

    As indicated in this article the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council did not extend an offer to screen Dr. Reed. A very rare event from an organization that will walk down all aisles for those that promote their “Minnesota Workers’ Message”.

    Senator Clark addressed our group and received unanimous support for endorsement; there was no need to reach out to other candidates. It shows the commitment and trust we have for our loyal labor friend , the next Congresswoman from our State, Tarryl Clark.

  5. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 12/04/2009 - 08:30 am.

    Reed seems more a power seaker than a democrat to me. On this web site we have seen other examples of her nonanswers on issues. She apparently thinks it is more important to offend no one and to have no definite position that Bachmann can attack. With Clark, you know what is behind door number one. With Reed you have no idea what is behind door number two. Also, all along she has refused to say if she’d abide by party endorsement or not, so it was obvious to any but the oblivious that she would be in the primary one way or another. She shows her lack of respect for the party that she wants to represent. To me it doesn’t matter much what those unknown positions of hers may be because her personal integrity seems suspect.

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