Behind SEIU Chief Andy Stern’s Resignation

Max Fisher
The Atlantic Wire

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 down?

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.”

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