For Obama, Some Unions Are More Equal Than Others

by Rob Bluey
December 31, 2009

The Service Employees International Union takes the top prize as President Obama’s favorite labor union. President Andy Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger have visited the White House nearly 60 times, including 11 meetings with Obama and another with Vice President Biden.

The White House yesterday released more than 25,000 visitor records from Sept. 16-30. Included in the release were nearly 2,000 pre-Sept. 16 records based on specific requests. The records are publicly available on

SEIU’s Stern and Burger visited the White House three times in September; a fourth meeting was canceled. Their 58 total visits (27 by Stern and 31 by Burger) dating to the start of the Obama administration far outpace their fellow union leaders. Earlier this month Americans for Tax Reform and the Alliance for Worker Freedom requested a lobbying investigation into the SEIU given its close ties to the White House.

Next on the list is AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka with nine visits, followed by United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, who has been to the White House eight times. Gerard scored an invite to see Obama greet the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 10. United Steelworkers is headquartered in Pittsburgh.

Stern, Burger, Trumka and Gerard were the only four union leaders to have personal meetings with Obama. Burger, known as the “Queen of Labor,” serves on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

The records present a glimpse into who has access to Obama and his staff. While Stern’s frequent visits come as no surprise — a previous release showed his close ties to the White House — the latest set of data offers more clues about who’s in and who’s not.

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