Kathleen Falk, one of the Democratic candidates to face off in the recall race for Wisconsin governor, announced the support of a prominent healthcare union on Thursday to continue expanding her campaign support network.
Service Employees International Union President Dian Palmer said the union believes Falk would be the best candidate to address their needs and unite the state.
SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin is the largest healthcare workers union in the state with more than 15,000 members, who are mainly nursing home, home care and hospital workers, according to a statement.
“We went through an extended process looking for the right candidate that can address our needs, and to unite us and keep us moving forward by trying to mend budget repairs and budget bills,” Palmer said. “We need a champion and Falk would champion our rights.”
Palmer said that by looking at Falk’s previous experience as Dane County executive, they viewed Falk as an ideal candidate to endorse because she kept a balanced budget and made Madison a good place to live and work.
She added the union has had the experience of working with Falk before, and the parties have worked together as a union, as citizens and as management.
Palmer said Falk has been clear with them, unlike Gov. Scott Walker, and will work hard to restore collective bargaining rights.
In a statement released by Falk, she said she was proud to have gained support from the healthcare union.
“When I made a commitment to the people of Wisconsin to not be afraid to use the veto pen to restore workers’ rights and strengthen our middle class, it was precisely these wonderful workers, who are the life-blood of our communities, who I vowed to protect,” Falk said.
Other than SEIU, Falk has gained the support of several other large unions, including the state’s largest teachers’ union, the state’s largest public employee union, a statewide environmental advocacy organization and the national pro-choice group EMILY’s List, according to the statement.
Scot Ross, spokesperson for the Falk Campaign, said Falk received support from SEIU mainly because she has a record of standing up for working people, particularly people who do critical jobs as nurses or healthcare workers like the members of SEIU.
Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said the governor race is still in the early stage.
Falk is one of few candidates to declare entry in the governor race. The other Democratic candidate, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, only declared her run very recently. Secretary of State Doug La Follette also filed paperwork on Wednesday.
Heck said there are still many uncertainties about which candidate would have the largest potential to win.
“It’s important to get endorsements, but I believe there will be other candidates getting into that,” Heck said. “Falk is obviously aggressive in seeking union support. But there are many other factors that have to be considered.”
Heck said he was not surprised by the endorsement because Falk has agreed to fight for labor rights and do what the unions want to achieve.
He said this endorsement will concretely mean money, volunteers and organizational help for Falk’s campaign before a possible primary.