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SEIU takes anti-buyout campaign international

The Service Employees International Union is organising simultaneous protests in 100 cities across 25 countries as part of its ongoing campaign against the private equity industry.

The Service Employees International Union 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 MoveOn.org, which encourages Americans to get involved in the political process.

The union singles out Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in a statement, saying that the firm’s “risky debt-laden deals have contributed to the credit crunch and helped throw the economy into free fall”. The SEIU also notes KKR’s expenditures on lobbying as well as founder Henry Kravis’s role in fundraising for US presidential candidate John McCain.

The campaign includes 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-focussed viral video featuring US comedian Lewis Black.

The SEIU and its president, Andy Stern, have been protesting the buyout industry for well over a year, most often targeting The Carlyle Group. The union has frequently disrupted speeches given by the firm's co-founder, David Rubenstein, and recently attempted to push a bill through the California legislature that would have prevented the state's pensions from investing with firms linked to certain sovereign wealth funds.