As chief of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the nation's largest unions, Andy Stern is a big player in
Democratic politics. The group, which represents about 2 million
workers, has been influential within the Obama administration. Stern's
SEIU demonstrated their clout during the health care reform debate, when
they secured concessions from lawmakers in exchange for large-scale
organizing in support of the bill. So why would Stern, at only 59, step
- Because Health Care Passed The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes, "The
cause of his life -- comprehensive health care reform -- was signed into
law, as he watched, two weeks ago. ... Stern feels that he's outlived
his usefulness and would rather turn his union over to younger folks
with new ideas, associates said." Ambinder reports, "Earlier in the
year, he told friends that he would step down after health care -- and
that's what he's apparently decided to do."
- Fought With Other
Unions The New York Times' Steven Greenhouse recounts
Stern's "fierce battles with two other unions, a large breakaway
S.E.I.U. local in the San Francisco Bay area, and Unite Here, the union
representing hotel and restaurant workers. Mr. Stern has become a
lighting rod within labor, ever since he led a half dozen unions to quit
the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation's main labor federation, in 2005. His
union, which represents hundreds of thousands of health-care workers and
janitors, asserted that the A.F.L.-C.I.O. had grown stodgy and was
doing far too little to unionize workers."
- Stern Led Watershed
Year of SEIU Politico's Ben Smith, who first reported the news,
writes, "The SEIU has emerged as a central political player and has
grown rapidly under Stern's tenure, and some close to him had expected
him to resign during the first term of the president he helped elect,
and after the achievement he'd spent years focusing on, widening access
to health care. ... Stern also won a victory when Obama named his
union's lawyer, Craig Becker, to the National Labor Relations board over
Republican objections in a recess appointment last month."
He Forced Out? The Huffington Post's Sam Stein speculates, "The circumstances through which
Stern's pending retirement was announced have indeed been bizarre,
catching several SEIU officials off-guard. Certainly, it doesn't appear
to be the method by which Stern was hoping for the news to become
public. ... As is typical when powerful political figures abruptly leave
their posts, Stern's departure has spurred speculation that he was
compelled to leave by more than just a sense of proper timing."
Challenge for Obama The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza looks ahead.
"The heir apparent for Stern at SEIU is Anna Burger who currently heads
up Change to Win. The other name prominently mentioned as a Stern
replacement is SEIU executive vice president Mary Kay Henry," he writes.
"No matter the choice to replace Stern, the challenge for the president
will be significant. There is talk that Change to Win may eventually
return to the AFL-CIO fold -- a delicate dance with which the next head
of SEIU will be tasked."
- Stern Looking Ahead? A
conservative blogger for Andrew Breitbart's Big Government site muses,
"Andy Stern's not tired. He's not going anywhere. He might resign as
President of the SEIU, but that won't stop him from trying to be
President of...well...you know." The blogger speculates, "Maybe Obama has
bigger plans for him than just a piddly old Deficit Czar."
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