WSJ Weekend Interview: The SEIU’s Andy Stern

By December 9, 2008Labor Unions

Meant to link to this earlier, “The Weekend Interview” from the Wall Street Journal, Matthew Kaminski talking to Andy Stern, head of the Service Employees International Union. And since the SEIU is in the news today…

“We just won an election. It’s no secret.” By “we,” Andy Stern means “American workers.” He also means Big Labor. Speaking on behalf of the fastest growing trade group in America, the Service Employees International Union — and as one of labor’s most powerful figures today — Mr. Stern sets this simple bar for the Obama presidency: “I expect nothing less than what he said he was going to do, and we should hold him accountable.”

From his perspective — atop SEIU’s Washington headquarters, which offers an enviable view of the National Cathedral — the first part is straightforward: “Massive investment” in a stimulus for the economy, the car industry, deficit-ridden states and infrastructure. Then universal health care, an issue on which the SEIU boss helped push the Democratic consensus leftward, and “tax cuts for the middle class” (and hikes for the upper bracketed). At the end of his list, Mr. Stern puts something particularly dear to unions: Quick adoption of the Employee Free Choice Act, commonly known as “card check,” which would end secret ballots in union elections.

The bit about accountability is no idle warning. Organized labor put up some $450 million to get Democrats elected. The SEIU accounted for $85 million of that, making Mr. Stern’s union the single biggest contributor to either party in this election cycle. And just in case, the SEIU set aside an additional $10 million fund to get people unelected if need be. “We would like to make sure people appreciate that we take them at their word and when they don’t live up to their word there should be consequences,” he says.

The interview does a good job of capturing Stern’s skilled patter on behalf of forced unionization (card check) and economic isolation and stagnation (protectionism). 

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