Andy Stern unexpectedly abandons his Service Employee International Union (SEIU) presidency after working fourteen years to build his purple brand and obtaining the SEIU forced-unionism organizing coup of the century, a.k.a. ObamaCare.
Many expected Stern to announce that he was moving on to bigger things, or perhaps, new ObamaCare czar. (see Liberty Chick’s post
about Stern’s new gig as an event planner.)
Instead, Stern announces an almost Ecclesiastic
(or perhaps The Byrds
) sing-song reason
for his departure: “In life there is a time to learn, a time to lead, and then there is a time to leave.”
Rather than finishing his term and announcing well in advance that he would not seek reelection, Stern plunged SEIU and the workers who are forced pay as dues as a condition of keeping their jobs into an internal battle for power that is far from over. The repercussions created in this seemingly brief internal battle will eventually be felt throughout SEIU’s self proclaimed ‘global empire.’
It is unlikely that Stern arose one day and decided to retire – there are serious reasons for his actions. Some speculate that it may be the financial mismanagement draining SEIU resources, the fading
SEIU brand, or the growing scandals involving some of Stern’s handpicked local union bosses. Whatever the reason(s), there is definitely something more to this story. Over time as the disaffected leave, more will eventually be revealed and you will surely see many more posts at BigGovernment.com
as the stories trickle out.
Former SEIU Local President Unimpressed With Stern’s Tenure
Sal Rosselli (former president of an SEIU large healthcare union), who SEIU President Stern and SEIU Executive Vice President Mary Kay Henry ousted by imposing a trusteeship on his local union wrote
A sad chapter in the once proud union's history will come to an end.
New Boss Same as the Old Boss
Stern's legacy is that he took control of an organization built by more than a million hardworking janitors, healthcare workers, and public servants, and used their resources primarily to secure his own political power.
Instead of helping workers fight for better jobs, Stern gave himself the authority to cut secret deals with corporations and trade away workers' rights.
Instead of helping workers build their own strong organizations, he “restructured” existing unions and put his own loyalists in charge: appointees like Tyrone Freeman who could always be trusted to vote with Stern, even if they couldn't be trusted to keep their hands out of the till.
Instead of uniting workers, Stern split the AFL-CIO in half, only to tear apart his own “Change to Win” federation four years later with an unprecedented raid on Unite Here.
Last year, healthcare workers in California realized that if they wanted a real voice at work, they would have to find it outside SEIU. When Stern came to take control of their union, they founded the National Union of Healthcare Workers, NUHW.
Stern's multi-million-dollar fights against NUHW and Unite Here have diverted resources away from healthcare reform and employee free choice, weakening the former and scuttling the latter. These wars of choice have taken a toll on the union's finances as well as on Stern's credibility.
Stern's departure would leave SEIU with a crisis of leadership. His likely successors, Mary Kay Henry and Anna Burger, have been tarred by the same ethics scandals and failed policies that marred his tenure. Stern's legacy is that SEIU has become a rogue union, undemocratic, unable to pay its bills, and unwilling to defend its members at the national level.
Despite numerous media posts to the contrary, Mary Kay Henry (MKH) is no departure from Stern. If internal problems have driven Stern from office, then Anna Burger and any of Stern’s handpicked Executive Vice Presidents (MKH, Gerry Hudson, Eliseo Medina, Dave Regan, Tom Woodruff, Mitch Ackerman, and Bruce Raynor) are a part of that problem and they will not fix it. MKH’s ‘fresh face’ will be unable to solve the internal turmoil that Stern’s resignation has now exacerbated.
The media is being spun in a similar fashion that created sycophantic stories praising the “New Boss” Stern in the 1990s. Like Henry, Stern himself rose to power bypassing SEIU President John Sweeney’s handpicked successor. But unlike with Sweeney’s selection, Henry is also handpicked by Stern.
Secret Purple Society
In a manner that would make any secret society member envious, Stern remained in control and SEIU’s vice presidents continued to conceal the insider game of musical chairs played by SEIU Executive VPs. Even Big Labor insiders have noted the lack of union members participation in the process. For instance, longtime Big Labor organizer Steve Early wrote in Labor Notes
Like the ever-mischievous “Cat in the Hat,” four SEIU executive vice presidents immediately started campaigning to have their 52-year old colleague, Mary Kay Henry, replace Stern, rather than his older, more stolid secretary-treasurer Anna Burger.
Burger, in turn, urged the 70 or more International Executive Board (IEB) members, who will be making this decision in May, to follow Stern’s recommendation and elect her president.
While any contested vote is welcome in a union that generally discourages them, the process of replacing Stern has been about as transparent as the College of Cardinals’ method of picking a new pope in Rome. Instead of watching for color-coded smoke signals from the Vatican, a waiting labor movement has been deciphering messages, from one side or the other, as they get posted on the Internet.
Regarding the new SEIU Chief, Big Labor insider Steve Early warns that she is not a “fresh” face:
For her part, Mary Kay Henry has been rapidly accumulating plaudits that are similarly disconnected from reality, although widely disseminated by media outlets ranging from Politico to The New York Times to our very own In These Times. For example, it was actually suggested earlier this week, in the Times, that Henry is “someone fresh and new,” when in fact she is a quintessential product of the SEIU managerial class recruited and installed by Stern [never served elected office] or his predecessor, John Sweeney, over the last 30 years.
The New Lavender Lady Labor Boss Henry is the same as the old Lavender Labor Boss Stern. Don’t expect to see much style change; the organizing prize remains the same: forcing ObamaCare related healthcare workers to become SEIU dues payers. And, as SEIU Healthcare Division’s Diva, Henry has had a lot of practice with this type of coerced membership.