The labor community is ramping up the pressure on Barack Obama to intervene in what could be drastic and costly wage cuts for health care employees in California.
A source with the Service Employees International Union tells the Huffington Post that the union is making a six-figure ad purchase in Los Angeles and surrounding markets, calling on the President to come to the aid of the state's home health care workforce.
The spot, which should be released on Wednesday, will tell, in part, the story of Pauline Beck, the homecare worker with whom Obama famously spent a day walking "in her shoes." It will coincide with the president's visit to L.A. for a DNC fundraiser scheduled that evening. The dueling images could be politically touchy for the White House: health care workers pleading with the president to help them keep their salaries as he attends a high-end event with Democratic donors.
The back-story to the ad is equally compelling. In August 2007, then candidate Obama spent a day with Beck drawing attention to, and getting a sense of, life as a health care worker in California. Beck, in turn, was granted a speaking slot at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the president's staff deeming her story the type of message that would help bolster the working class image of the campaign.
Now, it's Beck who is in need of the president's help. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in an effort to get the state under budget, has proposed cutting salaries for health care workers to levels that -- SEIU reps say -- would approach those of Taco Bell employees. The Obama White House had initially threatened to withhold billions of dollars in stimulus funds from California if this were to happen. Earlier this week, however, the administration backed off this threat.
The SEIU has been drawing attention to the scheduled salary cuts for the past week, hoping to influence the President into intervene in the matter. The television advertisement is the next step in that campaign. The SEIU source did not have a final script for the ad that will run. According to a tweet from the union's president, Andy Stern, Beck will play a prominent role in the spot.