SEIU launches campaign against tax policies

The US public service union, the Service Employees International Union, has launched an international initiative to change tax laws it asserts unfairly benefit private equity firms.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is targeting world leaders and legislators in a campaign against “special treatment and tax loopholes” benefiting private equity firms such as the tax treatment of carried interest as a capital gain.

The SEIU, which represents 1.5 million public service workers, nurses, hospital staff, nursing home care providers, building services and security guards in North America, has been joined in the campaign by non-profit organisation, which encourages Americans to get involved in the political process.

The SEIU and its president, Andy Stern, have become well known for their protest tactics against the private equity industry, which recently included storming a conference appearance by The Carlyle Group’s co-founder David Rubenstein. The protest 
centered on Carlyle's $6.3 billion acquisition last year of nursing home chain, Manor Care. The union has called for greater regulation of nursing home operators amid fears services – and jobs – could be cut.

In a statement yesterday, the SEIU singled out buyout shop Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts (KKR), saying the firm’s “risky debt-laden deals have contributed to the credit crunch and helped throw the economy into free fall”. The SEIU also noted KKR’s expenditures on lobbying and founder Henry Kravis’s role in fundraising for US Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

The campaign will involve demonstrations in 100 cities in 25 countries around the world, a petition directed at legislators, a letter campaign targeting John McCain for his ties to KKR and a Henry Kravis-focused viral video featuring US comedian Lewis Black.