Odessa Kelly

NASHVILLE — Odessa Kelly, Democratic candidate for Congress in TN-05, announced today the national endorsement of the Service Employees International Union, which includes the support of her own Local 205 in Nashville.

“I’m a proud dues-paying, hard-working member of SEIU Local 205, and I’m honored to have the support of my union family,” Kelly said. “Before I joined SEIU, I was working for Metro Parks with a Master’s degree but still barely able to afford life in this city. I was looking for answers, and my union family helped me understand the power of collective organizing in the fight for economic justice. I found my voice on the job, in our community, through our union.

“They invested in me, lifted me up as a leader, and that’s why I’m proud to fight with them today.”

SEIU has been active in local politics, tipping the balance in races up and down the ballot. Kyonzte’ Toombs, Councilwoman for District 2, credits their support as a major factor in her 2019 victory.

“The support from SEIU mattered so much in my race for council, and I’m excited they are getting behind Odessa Kelly,” said Toombs, who has endorsed Kelly for Congress. “Odessa and SEIU members have continued to fight for economic justice in this city, and they’re a big part of why we were able to pass a budget that made historic investments in our schools and our city.” 

Kelly would join a dozen union members in Congress at a time when President Joe Biden has put a renewed national emphasis on the importance of unions in our country and the role they play in rebuilding our economy. Nashville elected five union members to Metro Council in 2019 as part of the most diverse and progressive Council in the city’s history. 

The incumbent, Rep. Jim Cooper, has at times been at odds with unions and working families throughout his career, supporting job-killing trade agreements, opposing President Obama’s overtime expansion to millions of workers, and attempting to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits repeatedly during his decades in Congress.

“I know what working families in this city are going through firsthand,” Kelly said. “I’ve been living it and fighting alongside SEIU members for years. You can’t understand the urgencies of working people if these issues aren’t urgent to you.”