Daily Archives: April 14, 2010

McCaskill: Card-Check (NOT EFCA) is Dead This Year

Sen Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has told reporters that ‘card-check’ (but not the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act) is dead this year:

[via National Review]

McCaskill said that while senators were still negotiating the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a controversial bill to reform union organizing rules, it was unlikely to even include the actual “card check” provision itself, which has been the subject of malign by conservatives and business groups.

“I don’t think that card check is going to come up,” McCaskill said during a weekly conference call with Missouri journalists. “It has not come up, and believe me: if card check, the way it was drafted, was going to come up, it probably would have come up early in 2009 as opposed to now.”

EFCA was a top priority of the labor community heading into last year’s Congress, but the emergence of a series of Democrats to have questioned some of its provisions, along with timing issues on jobs and healthcare legislation, had left the bill on the backburner.

“I think there’s a lot of negotiation that’s going on about card check,” McCaskill said. “Businesses are at the table, and frankly I don’t think the card checking part is the part that’s being discussed at this point; I think that’s been abandoned.”

While McCaskill did not say what is being negotiated as an alternative, the prospects still likely include some version of first-contract arbitration, monetary fines that the union-controlled NLRB could levy, as well as equal time/equal access for union organizers to come onto employer property.

Presumably, the job-destroying Employee Free Choice Act will never really die…at least not until after November.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Filed under Claire McCaskill, EFCA, Employee Free Choice Act

Will Replacements and Strikers Clash in Philly?

Now this could get interesting:

If this Thursday evening is like other evenings, the nurses, technologists and therapists who are replacing Temple University’s striking health-care professionals will be kicking back at the Sheraton Center City hotel bar, relaxing after yet another 12-hour shift.

But Thursday won’t be like the other nights.

That’s because the union on strike at Temple will be holding its annual leadership meeting at the very same hotel, now occupied by their replacements – about 800, double-bunked in 400 rooms.
“We’re not expecting any problems,” Sheraton general manager Paul Schwartz said, “but we took some precautions” by hiring extra security guards.

Moving the union meeting  to another venue is probably out of the question, then?

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Filed under labor union strike, RNs, Temple University Hospital

The Generals Who Vie for SEIU’s Top Spot

Two days after Politico broke the story of the resignation of lavender-lapeled lord of labor, SEIU’s Andy Stern, and two days before the controversial Stern confirms or denies his intent to leave the purple behemoth he has led, it appears warfare may be breaking out between the generals of Andy Stern’s army of purple patrons.

According to the Daily News, the generals lining up their supporters are Andy Stern’s right-hand (wo)man, the “Queen of Labor,” Anna Burger (whom we wrote about yesterday), SEIU International VP Mary Kay Henry, and the powerful Dennis Rivera, who led the SEIU’s war room to get ObamaCare passed.

Dennis Rivera, it should be noted, has not officially thrown his fedora in the ring, according to the Daily News.  However, he is reportedly being urged to run.

Like Stern, Rivera is a charismatic figure known for his innovative methods. Though Rivera spearheaded SEIU’s health care reform efforts in Washington, he has shown little appetite in recent years for taking on additional union responsibilities.

If Dennis wants the job, Anna won’t be able to beat him,” one 1199 leader said.

Though he is powerful inside and outside the SEIU, like Andy Stern, Rivera is not without his detractors—especially in Puerto Rico, where native-born Rivera (and the SEIU) was accused of attempting to “bust” the existing teachers’ union in a back-door deal that would have delivered Puerto Rico’s teachers into the arms of the SEIU.

While Rivera initially denied the claims, the SEIU did bring about an election where the Puerto Rican teachers voted down a SEIU-shell union.  Puerto Rico’s teachers were so upset with the SEIU, they picketed the SEIU’s 2008 convention in Puerto Rico (video here).

In 2009, Rivera became the SEIU’s point man for ObamaCare and is the one who helped dispatch hundreds of union activists to last summer’s townhall meetings.

Mr. Stern said his union picked Mr. Rivera to oversee its health care campaign because “we needed our General Petraeus to win this war.”

Mr. Rivera commands a much smaller army: 400 union staff members working full time for health care reform, an unusually large lobbying force that is part of the tens of millions of dollars the union has devoted to the campaign. In Maine, Montana, North Dakota and a dozen other states, the union’s activists have held news conferences and written op-ed articles decrying America’s health care system, all to push lawmakers to back reform.

After 18 years running the giant New York local, 1199/S.E.I.U. United Healthcare Workers East, Mr. Rivera has grown comfortable in Washington. He now wears suits, after years of wearing a $5 navy blazer he bought at a thrift shop. Soft-spoken, thin and 59 years old, he talks with hints of his native Puerto Rico, where his father was a factory manager.

As Rivera is roughly the same age as allegedly-retiring Stern, he may or may not want to take over the top job at the SEIU. However, as noted above, if he throws his fedora into the ring, it could be his for the taking.

Cat-Fight:  The Queen of Labor or Maven Mary?

Mary Kay Henry (press kit here) is an Executive Vice President of the Union of Purple People Eaters.  As such, she sits one rung lower on the SEIU’s ladder than Anna Burger (who is the SEIU’s Secretary-Treasurer), and two steps beneath Andy Stern’s purple shoes.

As head of the SEIU’s health care division, Henry’s total compensation was $231,348 (to Burger’s $252,724 and Stern’s $306,388) in 2009 and she apparently has her eyes set on dethroning the “Queen of Labor.”

According to BeyondChron, Stern’s departure…

leaves Anna Burger and Mary Kay Henry scrambling to win majority support on the Executive Board. While Stern groomed Burger as his successor, he leaves office without ensuring a smooth path for her election. And considering that Burger is more closely identified with Stern’s policies, the Executive Board may prefer to give the appearance of charting a new course by selecting Henry as the new President.

Like Rivera and Burger, Henry also has made a few enemies inside and outside the SEIU.  In California, where the SEIU has embroiled itself in a civil war of its own creation, Henry has been heavily involved in both the takeover of the SEIU-UHW local (to the extent she allegedly even called the police on the SEIU’s own members), as well as the lawsuit against the SEIU’s former local union leaders.

Mary Kay Henry [above] opened the door to her own cross-examination over the undemocratic trusteeship process, and ended up admitting that the long-term-care workers (who such urgent action had to be taken to protect) are still part of UHW, as the trustees haven’t gotten around to complying with the IEB’s order yet! Almost every document SEIU tried to submit today was heavily redacted (blacked out), but after the judge agreed with the defendants’ lawyers, many redactions ended up getting redacted, with the documents going to the jury whole.

The Queen of Labor Hopes to Hold Her Crown

As “the most powerful woman in the labor movement” Anna Burger is clearly the most visible of the three front runners to Andy Stern’s throne.  She, like Stern, is a frequent visitor to the White House (she made 43 visits to Stern’s 38 in 2009), as well as well-acquainted with liberal billionaire George Soros.

Burger, already holding the No. 2 spot at the SEIU, is also heavily involved in a couple of other George Soros “ventures.” We also noted yesterday:

As co-chair of George Soros’ Democracy Alliance (PDF), Burger is also Chair of the failed Change to Win coalition (the group of unions that broke away from the AFL-CIO in 2005) and also sits on President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

As Andy Stern’s dance partner in the 2005 break-up of the AFL-CIO, however, her possible filling in where Andy leaves off may not sit well with other union bosses at the AFL-CIO, especially as talks of re-unification are likely to intensify.

In 2005, Stern led the SEIU and other unions, including the Teamsters, out of the AFL-CIO to form a rival coalition, Change to Win. The coalition has struggled, and the AFL-CIO has made overtures to get the rebel unions back in the fold.

While the split was officially about disputes over Big Labor’s direction in the 21st century, many insiders viewed it as a personality clash between Stern and then-AFL-CIO head John Sweeney.

Moreoever, as the Daily News notes:

Stern’s second in command and anointed successor – Anna Burger, the union’s secretary-treasurer – has never been popular among its top leadership.

Nor, is she popular with the union that represents SEIU’s staff:

Union members yesterday picketed an event at which their boss was being honored – accusing her of union-busting and anti-worker policies in connection with layoffs and contract talks at their workplace. Nothing unusual about union pickets – except that the boss, Anna Burger, is one of the nation’s top labor leaders, and a key executive in one of its fastest growing unions, the Service Employees International Union, the SEIU. “Anna Burger is a hypocrite…”  [More here.]

While we watch the drama unfold, former SEIU comrade, now turned NUHW arch-nemesis, Sal Roselli summed it up in a press release yesterday:

If the reports are true, and Andy Stern steps down as the head of SEIU, a sad chapter in the once proud union’s history will come to an end.

Stern’s legacy is that he took control of an organization built by more than a million hardworking janitors, healthcare workers, and public servants, and used their resources primarily to secure his own political power.


Instead of helping workers build their own strong organizations, he “restructured” existing unions and put his own loyalists in charge: appointees like Tyrone Freeman who could always be trusted to vote with Stern, even if they couldn’t be trusted to keep their hands out of the till.

Instead of uniting workers, Stern split the AFL-CIO in half, only to tear apart his own “Change to Win” federation four years later with an unprecedented raid on Unite Here.


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.

The challenge for SEIU is not simply to choose a successor, but to reverse years of bad policy, restore accountability, and steer away from the brink.

We’ll keep watching and reporting, so stay tuned.

[Emphasis added throughout.]

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Filed under Andy Stern, Anna Burger, Dennis Rivera, Mary Kay Henry, SEIU, Service Employees International Union

On Unions: From the mouth of babes

Last year, the AFL-CIO announced a campaign to target lure attract younger workers to the labor movement.  However, after watching the United Steelworkers strike for eight months in her town, one high-school student wrote a letter to the editor that demonstrates that union bosses have a lot of work to do before they can convince young workers to get in the car on the union bus.

I work in a local department store here in Sudbury, where a handful of USW 6500 workers were recently hired. I work side by side with them every day, and have gotten to know them very well.

I listen to them discuss, and complain even, about the Vale dispute on a daily basis, too. Therefore, I have come to hear a lot of their opinions and stands on the situation. However, what I don’t understand is why I am even working with them in the first place.

As a USW 6500 member who voted in favour of the strike, they voted not to work, plain and simple. This handful of Local 6500 workers that I work with every day are taking the jobs of other students like me, who need it more than they do.

As Canadians, I am clearly aware that they have the right to work. But as students, so do we. The Local 6500 members that I work with do not work full-time hours. They work the same shifts I do, after school hours, at minimum wage. Not only could this have been a job opportunity for five other students like me, as they are only working part time, but it also could have given me the extra hours that my job cannot give me because of the economy.


Where I work is not the only place this is happening. Many Local 6500 workers have been hired everywhere, taking jobs of students across the city.

Personally, I believe they should be serving their time as a striker. Supposed to work an eight-hour shift at Inco? They should spend it as an eight-hour shift on the picket line. Not an eight-hour shift working our jobs. It’s common sense.


If other students feel this way, the AFL-CIO has a long way to go to brainwash reach the hearts and minds of young workers.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Filed under AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, USW, Vale Inco