Mary Kay Henry Elected New SEIU President; States “A Nation of Immigrants Seeks to Criminalize and Disenfranchise New Immigrants” During Acceptance Speech

Joe Schoffstall | May 10, 2010
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Mary Kay Henry has been elected as the new president of the 2.2 million member Services Employees International Union (SEIU). She ran unopposed in the election. As POLITICO reported, in an interview today Henry stated her intentions were not to bring the organization in a different direction, but rather was geared towards “refocusing”. She gave subtle hints of the possibility of joining the AFL-CIO once again and expanding into some of the gaps in non-union community organizing left by the damaged and recently dismantled group- ACORN. "We want to build community organizations that are sustained between election cycles," she said, saying SEIU would be "investing in organizations that already exist, and in other cases partnering with people in that community" to create new ones. She is also vocally against any kind of legislation that would crack down on illegal immigrants. In fact, during her acceptance speech, Henry stated: “The time to organize is now. When a nation of immigrants seeks to criminalize and disenfranchise new immigrants, who share the same hopes and dreams of all workers to provide for their families and to give their children a shot a better future”.

Henry came out in opposition to the recently enacted Arizona law, stating that it's “an incredible injustice”, despite 70 percent of Arizonans favoring the legislation. The SEIU even has a "Pledge to boycott Arizona" feature on their Web site. Andy Stern, the former President of the SEIU and most frequented visitor to the White House in 2009, announced he would step down on April 13. He was an ardent supporter expanding union membership through influencing legislation such as universal health care and the 'Employee Free Choice Act' (EFCA).  Henry is described as being a “Stern loyalist”.