The Service Employees International Union's 2.1 million members voted Tuesday night to endorse President Barack Obama for re-election in 2012. The union says that the upcoming election is a critical moment for black voters and labor rights.
SEIU's announcement comes as many political pundits question whether Obama can hold the black vote in a much tougher economy and with a campaign that has far less enthusiasm than it did in 2008.
"For African Americans, the 2012 presidential election is more critical than ever," SEIU Executive Vice President Gerry Hudson wrote in a statement after the organization's endorsement.
"There's so much at stake -- growing joblessness with an unemployment rate stuck at 15.9 percent, attacks on voting rights, increasing poverty for children and seniors, enormous gaps in wealth and access to quality, affordable healthcare," Hudson wrote.
Colorlines.com D.C. correspondent Shani Hilton was on a press call shortly after the endorsement was announced and says the announcement "wasn't anything particularly shocking or new."
She says the call featured a number of SEIU members who explained why they would continue to support Obama. The union also said it would keep pushing for a pathway to citizenship for all immigrant workers, according to Hilton.
But she points out the early endorsement may be a sign of things to come.
"The call was a particularly early endorsement of President Obama, considering that during the 2008 election, they didn't endorse until mid-February of that year," Hilton said. "The endorsement is likely a sign that traditionally progressive groups are going to start their uphill battle against voter disenchantment pretty soon," Hilton said.