SEIU Gives Ben Jealous Early, Enthusiastic Endorsement in Maryland Governor’s Race

Baltimore, Md. – The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), today endorsed Ben Jealous in the 2018 Maryland race for governor because, in the words of one local union leader, “He is the clear choice for working people.”

“Ben Jealous presents a clear choice, not just for our members but for all unions,” said Lisa Brown, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU. “Ben has spent his whole life fighting for social and economic justice for working people.  He understands the plight families face every day and has the experience necessary to improve the lives of all Marylanders.”

Union leaders and members, including health care, child care, property service, school and social service workers, joined Jealous at the 1199SEIU headquarters in Baltimore to announce the endorsement. SEIU and its membership will be supporting Jealous by knocking on doors, making phone calls and sending direct mail leading up to Maryland’s Democratic Primary on June 26.

“Ben Jealous will ensure that Marylanders receive paid sick leave so they don’t have to decide between their health and financial ruin,” said Jaime Contreras, 32BJ SEIU Vice President. “He will rise above Hogan’s partisan rancor and restore the consensus between working families and responsible business leaders who are united behind this life-saving program.”  

“We need to get back to a place where we are investing in education — from cradle to college,” said Merle Cuttitta, President, SEIU Local 500. “That’s why SEIU is 100 percent behind Ben Jealous. He has a plan for investing in schools and making college affordable for Maryland students. Annapolis has been coasting on this issue for the last three years, but Ben Jealous will get Maryland education back on track.”

“I’m grateful to receive this endorsement from SEIU,” Jealous said. “Too many Maryland families are struggling to make ends meet, choosing between medicine and rent, and believing that the next generation may be worse off than the last. We have to change course and elect new leadership with the courage to move our state forward. We have to make Maryland a place where hard work is enough, and that means a $15 living wage, ‘Medicare for All’ so we stop rising healthcare premiums, and making college or learning a trade accessible to all without going into massive debt.”

Ben Jealous is a civil rights leader, community organizer, educator and investor committed to getting Maryland back to doing big things. At age 35, Jealous was named the youngest-ever President and CEO of the NAACP. Under his leadership, the NAACP underwent an unprecedented era of growth. In 2013, The Baltimore Sun named Jealous “Marylander of the Year” for his work abolishing the death penalty, passing the DREAM Act and expanding voting rights.

SEIU local chapters that attended the endorsement announcement included the Committee of Interns and Residents (CIR/SEIU), National Association of Government Employees (NAGE/SEIU), SEIU Local 32BJ, SEIU Local 400 PG, SEIU Local 500, SEIU Local 722, SEIU Local 1199 United Health Care Workers East.

In deciding on endorsements, SEIU looks for proven leadership on social and economic justice and thoroughly evaluates new candidates’ background and commitment to improving the lives of workers and their families.