Andy Stern Archives - Shopfloor

Agreed, the Head of the SEIU is a Powerful Lobbyist, Except …

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The Hill newspaper today carries a special feature, “2010 Top Lobbyists,” the kind of list journalism that’s fun and draws a lot of attention. No knock here.

Although we note the inclusion of Mary Kay Henry, the new president of the Service Employees International Union, the SEIU:

Mary Kay Henry, Service Employees International Union. The new president of the politically powerful union will play a pivotal role in the debate over comprehensive immigration reform and getting out the Democratic vote in midterm elections.

But she’s not a registered lobbyist and hasn’t been one since 2006, according to House lobbying disclosure forms.

The Senate disclosures show the same — not a registered lobbyist since 2006.

The Hill’s inclusion of Henry must just be a recognition of her prospective lobbying clout. The paper did a feature on Henry after her surprise election in May, “Powerful SEIU elects first woman president, successor to Stern,” and the union’s political influence is BIG. Excerpt:

SEIU has the biggest political action committee among labor unions, with close to $11.8 million in cash on hand by the end of 2009, according to Federal Election Commission records. In addition, it spent more than $58 million on its political and lobbying activities in 2009, working with groups as varied as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America to the National Gay Lesbian Task Force, according to financial disclosure records filed with the Labor Department.

Come to think of it, her predecessor as SEIU president, Andy Stern, wasn’t a registered lobbyist either. The omission caused a ruckus because of his obvious advocacy, clout and political access — being the most frequent outside visitor to the White House, for example.

Does the  SEIU have a “carve out” from the lobbying disclosure laws no one knows about?

Do You Want Lies with That? SEIU Invades Fast Food Industry

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The Service Employees International Union has its sights on unionizing the fast food industry, encroaching on the United Food and Commercial Workers’ territory through an multifaceted, aggressive campaign that would rely on the anti-democratic force of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Peter List of LaborUnionReport.com has the ominous, fascinating details, “SEIU’s New Burger Queen? Internal Documents Expose Plan to Unionize Fast-Food Industry“:

Internal SEIU documents have exposed a December 2009 plan hatched to unionize the nation’s fast food workers. The SEIU plan details how the purple behemoth plans on targeting fast-food chains in Los Angeles first, the using L.A. and an “east coast” city as a spring board into other cities.

The SEIU’s plan is based on a labor landscape that is post Employee Free Choice Act, but its strategies demonstrate how the SEIU plans to use EFCA to unionize an almost-entirely union-free industry. While there is much to comment on about the SEIU plan about how a union targets workers within an industry (see highlighted text), we’re just going to you with the plan itself.

The point-by-point strategy document is well worth reading.

Ezra Klein had a piece in today’s Washington Post Online, “Andrew Stern departs the SEIU now weakened by infighting and expenses,” which reported:

[Stern’s] own union’s spending — notably the multimillion-dollar tab from internal battles he has waged — is drawing sharp criticism from within the labor movement. Stern has expanded his union, but his decisions have left it, and the labor movement as a whole, financially strapped, according to disclosure reports that have received little scrutiny.

It looks like the SEIU’s campaign of expansion is driven by the need to continue bringing in new members to disguise its shaky financial foundation. First service workers, then government workers, then fast food workers, then … manufacturers?

But the only way the SEIU can effect its scheme is by applying anti-democratic power of the Employee Free Choice Act.

To Andy Stern: Wait a Little Bit More Before the Revisionism

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Andy Stern, who on Friday confirmed his retirement as president of the Services Employee International Union, partakes in a Q&A in today’s Washington Post. Most interesting passage for our manufacturing audience:

EK: It seems like you’re saying that the labor movement itself needs to be less employer-based.

AS: I think the labor movement needs to be more industry-based, more sectoral-based, and more focused on the needs of workers. I don’t think it can be simply as based on work site by work site, work rule by work rule, as opposed to industry by industry.

. . . I do feel like trying to figure out how to partner with employers, appreciating that it takes two to tango, is important. Our work has always been best when we try to make our employers successful and we share in that success.

Eh. In this forum, Stern wants to appear reasonable, but the demands of the government-employee unions have helped bring California to its economic knees. The public-sector unions showed no interest in partnering with the taxpayers, who are, after all, their employees.

And the Employee Free Choice Act represents the antithesis of the “partnering” approach, instead being intended to impose union representation on unwilling employers and employees alike.

Andy Stern: My Work Here is Done

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A statement from Sal Rosselli, Interim President of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a union that went to battle against the SEIU.

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.

Rosselli previously served as president of the third largest SEIU affiliate and the International Union’s executive council.

Andy Stern to Step Down from SEIU, Register as Lobbyist

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No? Well, he should.

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16, “Groups Seek Probe of Lobbying by SEIU’s Stern“:

When union leader Andy Stern turned up as the most frequent visitor to the White House during the first nine months of this year, critics raised questions about whether his activities constitute lobbying.

Today, Americans for Tax Reform and the Alliance for Worker Freedom took action, sending a letter to acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Channing D. Phillips, requesting an investigation into “the potentially illegal lobbying activities” of Stern, who heads the Service Employees International Union.


Andy Stern to Resign, Shocking Labor. They’ll Get Over It

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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.

If a NLRB Quorum is So Important, Confirm Other Nominees

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So argues Katie Packer, executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute, in an op-ed in today’s Washington Times, “True intentions exposed,” revealing the not-so-secret agenda of Andy Stern of the SEIU and the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka in pushing the nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. The Senate last week failed to invoke cloture on Becker’s nomination by a bipartisan, 52-33 vote.

Just days ago, Mr. Trumka wrote, “The NLRB’s job is to protect workers’ rights – but for more than two years it has been functioning with only two members instead of the five it should have. Working people need an NLRB that can enforce the National Labor Relations Act – not one hobbled by vacancies. … These next few weeks will be crucial in building support for a fully functional NLRB.”

So, the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI) took Mr. Trumka at his word and called on the U.S. Senate to move expeditiously on the other outstanding nominations to the NLRB, namely Democrat Mark Pearce and Republican Brian Hayes. This would give the NLRB the quorum it needs to do its job.

In related dissections of Big Labor’s rhetoric,  LaborPains.org reads a recent opinion column in Politico by William Forbath, professor of law and history at the University of Texas and author of Law and the Shaping of the American Labor Movement. What’s Forbath’s real goal in supporting the nomination of Becker to the NLRB?

From Politico:

“The Becker nomination offers President Barack Obama a more important opportunity, what he likes to call a teachable moment. […]

But unions are on the verge of vanishing. If the Democrats won’t even go this far to halt the battering unions have been taking, then Democrats and the nation will be the losers. For soon, we won’t have any institutional player to do the heavy lifting, to provide the serious money the Democrats need to campaign for job creation, health care reform and financial regulation. McCain and company have demonized Becker simply because he’s a union lawyer. Obama should stand up to them.

Save Big Labor and your party allies, Mr. President! Make a recess appointment of Craig Becker!

Thanks to the Center for Union Facts for slogging through Forbath’s column. We lost interest with his tired invocation of “the big lie” and “teachable moments.” Is that what passes for argument at the University of Texas?

Finally, we draw your attention to yesterday’s post here at Shopfloor.org on the political PR campaign by the current chairman, Wilma Liebman, undermining the board’s quasi-judicial responsibilities. As the Truth About EFCA blog headlined its own post, “Even Without Becker, Politicizing The NLRB.”

SEIU’s Spin on MA Senate: If Only They Had Passed Single Payer

By | Labor Unions | One Comment

SEIU President Andy Stern spins the result of the Senate election in Massachusetts and says the Democrat defeat was a result of timidity in Washington. He’s whirling in a counterclockwise direction:

The reason Ted Kennedy’s seat is no longer controlled by a Democrat is clear: Washington’s inability to deliver the change voters demanded in November 2008. Make no mistake, political paralysis resulted in electoral failure.
During the past year, Republicans refused to do anything but stand in the way of change and Democratic Senators took too long to do too little. And tonight, the Senate bears the consequences for its failure to act decisively but the American people are the ones left paying the price. If our elected officials don’t recognize that every day more working families fall victim to Washington’s failure to act, the elections next November will result in the same.

This is preposterous. To be taken seriously, Stern should acknowledge that the SEIU and other labor unions mobilized their forces on behalf of Coakley. The SEIU ran its own radio spots, TV commercial, and spent $759,000 in a single week in the campaign.

Voters rejected them. From card check to public option, Massachusetts voters rejected organized labor’s policies, and the SEIU and Stern can’t spin that away.

Card Check: SEIU’s Stern Insists Upon Himself

By | Economy, General, Labor Unions, Taxation | No Comments

From today’s Financial Times, Union boss loses patience with US reform delays“:

Andy Stern, the powerful head of the Services Employees International Union, will push US senators for a vote on far-reaching reform of labour laws in “spring”, even if Democrats plead for delay and even if he has to accept a compromise.

Mr Stern, who White House records reveal was the most frequent visitor to Barack Obama in the first months of his presidency, expressed frustration at the time taken on Capitol Hill to pursue the administration’s agenda, which includes a divisive Employee Free Choice Act. [EFCA]

Stern is among a group of top union leaders who meet with President Obama in the White House today to talk about health care and the Senate bill’s excise tax on high-value insurance plans. Amanda Carpenter of The Washington Times tweets a good question: “Unions going to WH today–any possibility of a deal on EFCA in exchange for acceptance of caddy tax?”

Probably not. President Obama has not put serious political muscle behind passing card check, as far as we can tell. Given the current political/electoral dynamics in the Senate — the key EFCA battleground — it’s hard to see him really pushing this horribly unpopular measure. If jobs are the byword of 2010, turning control of more jobs-creating businesses over to labor unions is a definite campaign loser.

Oh, and did you know that Stern is not a registered lobbyist? And isn’t his refusal to register actually an admission of the lack of his influence, despite his many, many visits to the White House?

Addendum: In other SEIU news, the union is a major player in a “week of action” to promote expanded immigration, part of the Reform Immigration FOR America (RI4A) coalition. Odd to see a group representing union workers advocating for an increase in labor supply, pushing down wages for their members…unless the goal of political power takes precedent over representing their members.

Sources Say President to Renominate Becker to NLRB

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The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein blogs that “two sources with knowledge of the situation told HuffPost” that President Obama intends to renominate executive branch and judicial nominees the Senate returned to the White House on Dec. 24. That’s a precise attribution, eh? Not “White House sources” but “sources with knowledge of the situation.” Well, it would hardly come as a surprise for President Obama to stick by the people he thought were worth nominating in the first place.

We’d hope he’d at least reconsider Craig Becker, the SEIU counsel and card check apologist nominated to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. (See our Dec. 27 post.) It’s not as if the SEIU lacks access to the Administration to speak on important policy issues, right?

P.S. Michael Whitney at the lefty blog Firedoglake reports that Becker has been renominated, using Stein’s report as the source. Look again.