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union, labor, SEIU, private equity, card-check agreements


In 2007 private equity firms came under increasing scrutiny for the favorable tax treatment accorded to their fund managers' compensation. Labor, particularly the Service Workers International Union (SEIU), was instrumental in bringing this issue to the attention of the media and the public. However, SEIU's private equity campaign is just one way in which the union is pursuing its primary concern: increasing the ranks of its members. This Article examines the role that the SEIU private equity campaign plays both in the overall debate about private equity taxation as well as the union's negotiations with private equity firms. It argues that SEIU is using the campaign not only to promote changes in public policy, but also to pressure private equity firms to work with the union on issues such as card-check agreements. Unions, like other businesses, should be free to pursue their political agendas - agendas that serve their interests as a business. Efforts to restrict union political activity are based on an outdated vision of union representation and would cause (if enacted) further distortions to the market for political influence.