United Working Families

Logo of United Working Families, a political organization based in Illinois, as of July 2019. (link)


Chicago, IL

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:



Political organization

Executive Director:

Emma Tai

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

United Working Families is a labor union-funded political advocacy organization in Chicago that supports left-wing candidates for Illinois state and Chicago local office. The SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana and the Chicago Teachers Union are both prominent supporters of United Working Families.

Though United Working Families stylizes itself as a party, hosting delegate conventions and publishing platforms, it is not a formal political party. 1 United Working Families instead trains and recruits candidates for local office and supports those who advocate for left-wing policy proposals. 2


According to a 2015 interview with left-of-center magazine The Nation, Amish Patel, executive director of  Grassroots Illinois Action, stated that the founding of United Working Families formalized the relationships between existing left-of-center organizations. United Working Families was explicitly created to train left-wing candidates who would be loyal to labor union-affiliated coalitions after United Working Families provided candidate training services. 3

In 2014, a labor coalition headed by SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana and the Chicago Teachers Union officially founded United Working Families with the express goal of electing more left-wing politicians to Chicago local office. Labor activists specifically created United Working Families to influence Chicago’s 2015 mayoral elections, in which unions sought to build support for left-of-center activist and former Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D). 4 Though Garcia was ultimately unsuccessful in his bid, United Working Families went on to train successful left-wing candidates for local office.

United Working Families has supported most of the officials who now associate with the Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus. Most of the candidates who identify with the left-wing caucus have received contributions from labor unions, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the Chicago Teachers Union. 5

As of September 2020, United Working Families has supported all but one of the candidates within the Chicago City Council’s Socialist Caucus, whose members are affiliated with the left-wing Democratic Socialists of America. 6

Present Activities

United Working Families’s primary objective is to train candidates for local Chicago and Illinois statewide office through workshops and fellowships, in which people of color are trained to become candidates, organizers, and campaigners.

United Working Families also endorses candidates for office. In 2020, it endorsed U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) for President based on his support for “free college, guaranteed jobs, abolishing ICE, eradicating prisons, Medicare for All, ending the endless wars abroad, and a Green New Deal.” 7

In June 2022, the co-chair of UWF’s elected officials chapter Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-IL) won her Democrat primary with 66% of the vote against challenger Gilbert Villegas in Illinois state’s 3rd district. Ramirez had received endorsements from fellow Democrats Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VA) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as well as left-wing causes including People’s Action, the Working Families Party (WFP), and the House Progressive Caucus. In November 2022, she won the midterm election for the 3rd district against Republican challenger Justin Burau. 8 9


Emma Tai is currently the executive director of United Working Families. Tai has spent most of her career working to support union-backed political candidates. Tai worked directly for SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana as the organization’s senior campaign communications specialist, just prior to taking on her current role. 10

Kristen Cowell was the first executive director of the organization. Cowell has a history of political organizing, including a misdemeanor guilty plea for filing false campaign reports. 11


  1. What We Believe. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from
  2. What We Believe. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from
  3. Uetricht, M. (2016, July 19). Meet Rahm Emanuel’s Other Election Day Challenger. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from
  4. Uetricht, M. (2016, July 19). Meet Rahm Emanuel’s Other Election Day Challenger. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from
  5. Reform, I. (n.d.). Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from
  6. Sato, M. (2020, August 03). What The Gov: What Does It Mean To Have Six Democratic Socialists on the Chicago City Council? Retrieved September 10, 2020, from
  7. 2020 Endorsements. (2020, February 3). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from
  8. Vachon, Nick. “”We Just Broke a Thick-Ass Glass Ceiling”: Progressive Candidates Rack Up Some Big Wins.” In These Times, June 30, 2022.
  9. “Justin Burau.” Ballotpedia, Accessed February 27, 2023.
  10. Emma Tai LinkedIn. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from
  11. Mihalopoulos, D. (2015, March 29). United Working Families PAC leader filed false campaign report in Wisconsin. Retrieved September 10, 2020, from
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

Available Filings

Additional Filings (PDFs)

United Working Families

2229 S. Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60608