Obama Leads SEIU Chant After Vowing to Paint the Nation Purple - January 2008
During his campaign, President Obama boasted of his track record of working with the Illinois-based Service
Employees International Union, helping it "build more and more power" – and he promised to "paint the nation purple with SEIU."
In the video from January 2008, Obama told a group of SEIU workers that all presidential, gubernatorial and congressional candidates claim they are pro-union when they are looking for endorsements:
Do they have it in their gut?
Do they have a track record of standing alongside you on picket lines?
Do they have a track record of going after the companies that aren't letting you organize?
Do they have a track record of voting the right way but also helping you organize to build more and more power?
Obama referenced his background as a community organizer and his ties to SEIU Local 880, a union for homecare workers and home childcare providers in Illinois that first mobilized through Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.
Some of you know, I come from an organizing background, so I know, I've been working with SEIU before I was elected to anything.
When I was a community organizer at SEIU, local 880 and myself, we organized people to make sure that homecare workers had basic rights to organize. We organized voting registration drives. That's how we built political power on the south side of Chicago. We organized voter registration drives. That's how we built political power on the south side of Chicago. And now the time has come for us to do it all across this country. We are going to paint the town purple, and we're going to paint the nation purple with SEIU.
Obama credited the SEIU with helping him with his election to the U.S. Senate.
I would not be a United States senator had it not been for the support of your brothers and sisters in Illinois. Those folks, they supported me early. They supported me often. I've got my purple windbreaker from my campaign in 2004."
He encouraged the crowd to knock on doors and work the precinct.
SEIU, I'm glad you're with me. Let's together change the country.
Obama raised his fist and chanted,
SEIU! SEIU! SEIU! SEIU! SEIU!