The Washington Post, The Fix blog by Chris Cillizza, “Retirement of SEIU president Andy Stern rocks labor world“:
Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern’s expected retirement at the end of this week signals a changing of the guard atop one of the most politically powerful unions in the country.
Stern, whose departure was first reported by Politico’s Ben Smith, has stood atop SEIU since 1996 and had been widely rumored to be considering retirement in recent years.
SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette would not confirm Stern’s plans, saying only that he would “address these rumors at the close of the SEIU Executive Committee meeting this week.”
Well, that’s one way to get the media to pay attention to the SEIU’s leadership meeting here in D.C., save Stern’s announcement for the final hours of the three-day confabulation. He can certainly boast of accomplishing the SEIU’s goals.
New York Times, Jan. 22, 2010, “Most U.S. Union Members Are Working for the Government, New Data Shows”
Our guess is that Stern’s positioning himself to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. You don’t have to be a lawyer, you know.
More commentary …
Daniel Foster, National Review, “SEIU Leader Stern to Step Down”
Stern and the SEIU, which represents hundreds of thousands of health workers, had their sights set on a labor-friendly health-care bill, something they got (Cadillac Tax and all) in the Affordable Care Act. It didn’t hurt that Stern personally visited the White House twenty times in Obama’s first six months in office, and had a former high-level union operative placed inside the Oval Office in the form of Patrick Gaspard, Obama’s director of political affairs. And with the recess appointment of Craig Becker, former counsel to the SEIU, to Obama’s Labor Relations Board, Stern’s presumably feels his union’s position inside the administration is sufficiently robust that he can step down.
Michael Whitney, FireDogLake, “SEIU’s Andy Stern to Step Down”
It makes sense why Stern would want to resign: after a brutal health care battle and the loss of the Employee Free Choice Act, there’s little left for him to continue to exert his energy as head of the union. Indeed, health care reform is one of Stern’s major personal goals, and he probably sees he’s done as much as he can from atop SEIU.
The Change to Win coalition Stern led out of the AFL-CIO in 2005 has largely fallen apart. CtW’s executive director left very recently, and its communications and online teams were gutted because of funding problems. Reunification talks between the two federations began in 2009 but quickly fell apart; expect to hear talk of those restarting close to, or after, the 2010 elections in time for the 2013 AFL-CIO convention.
New York Times, “Stern of S.E.I.U. Plans to Step Down“:
While some union backers praise Mr. Stern as an innovative leader who has made labor a more potent force in politics, others criticize him for being divisive and too quick to make concessions to companies and political leaders. He was also criticized for reaching secret agreements with some companies that he did not disclose to the rank and file.
As one index of his power and proximity to the president, official records show that he visited the White House more than 20 times during Mr. Obama’s first six months in office. Not only that, the White House political director, Patrick Gaspard, had been the political director of the S.E.I.U.’s giant health-care local in New York, and Craig Becker, a newly appointed member of the National Labor Relations Board, was associate general counsel to the union.
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