Democratic hopeful Barack Obama picked up the endorsement Monday of the 170,000-member Illinois Service Employees International Union, a boost to the candidate's prospects in neighboring Iowa, whose caucuses kickoff the presidential nomination contest.
The Illinois union could provide an important flow of volunteers to help knock on doors in Iowa or make phone calls on behalf of Obama. Spokesman Jerry Morrison said the union will have no trouble finding people willing to help.
"Our members are coming to us asking what they can do," Morrison said, adding that the Obama endorsement was an unanimous decision by Illinois leaders.
Tom Balanoff, president of the SEIU Illinois State Council, cited Obama's commitment to expanding access to affordable health care and to protecting workers' rights as among the biggest reasons for his union's early endorsement.
Balanoff also cited Obama's early opposition to the Iraq War.
Barack also picked up the endorsement of the Indiana SEIU.