Yes on Prop 19 logoSEIU’s California State Council – arguably the leaders of the state’s most powerful union – announced the union’s support of California’s Proposition 19 for marijuana legalization. SEIU has 700,000 members in California.

A ballot measure to make California the first state to legalize the sale and use of marijuana has won the support of one of the state’s most powerful union, officials said Monday, offering the proposition a shot of mainstream legitimacy as well as a potential financial and organizational lift.

The decision by the executive board of the Service Employees International Union of California will be announced in the next few days, according to officials who have been briefed about it but were not allowed to speak publicly before it was announced. [...]

The measure is quickly emerging as one of the top — and most contentious — ballot issues in the nation this November. Polls show that it has the support of a slight majority of voters. But political analysts said that this kind of measure, given the social stigma that comes with illicit drug use, could prove difficult to poll.

At the very least, the support by the S.E.I.U., which claims over 700,000 members in the state, could make it easier for other groups to rally around the measure. More practically, it means access to the union’s considerable campaign apparatus, which could finance mailings, telephone calls and leaflets.

This is huge, particularly the part I bolded. Not only does SEIU’s endorsement bring much needed political mainstream legitimacy, but as the Times notes, it also brings SEIU’s campaign infrastructure to Prop 19′s campaign. A union field organizing effort, particularly from SEIU, is a gift from above for the underfunded Prop 19 campaign.

CA SEIU joins other Western unions in supporting Prop 19, including the Northern California ILWU, UFCW’s Western Council, and UFCW Local 5.