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Purple People upheaval: What’s behind SEIU thug-in-chief Andy Stern’s resignation?; Update: The shadow of Richard Trumka; SEIU issues statement

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 12, 2010 10:28 PM

Scroll for updates…SEIU issues statement…Stern to address rumors on Friday…

Will he declare “Mission Accomplished?” The news tonight of SEIU thug-in-chief Andy Stern’s resignation is quite a shocker given how much he reveled in his power and intimacy with the White House as its most frequent visitor. Indeed, here he is on Twitter just a few weeks ago bragging about an ego-inflating profile of himself in Washingtonian magazine — which describes Stern as the “new face of Labor” and the Big Labor boss who “helped elect President Obama” while “wired to the White House.”

Hardly sounds like someone “tired of the daily grind.”

Via Politico, the resignation deets:

Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern, one of America’s most prominent labor leaders, is set to resign, according to a member of the union’s board and another SEIU official.

The President of an SEIU local based in Seattle, Diane Sosne, broke the news to her staffers at 11:35 this morning, local time.

“Last night I received confirmation that Andy Stern is resigning as President of SEIU. He has not yet made a public announcement; we will share the details as we become aware of them,” Sosne wrote in an email obtained by POLITICO.

Sosne offered no explanation for the move, but another SEIU official speculated that Stern had finally tired of the draining job.

“Health care getting done is a good culmination,” the official said.

HuffPo lefties also confirm the rumors.

Behind the scenes and under the radar screen, as I’ve reported over the last year, Stern has installed a cadre of labor management stooges embroiled in financial scandals across the country and rankled rank-and-file watchdogs within the Big Labor organization. Obama paid no heed – appointing Stern to the federal joke of a “fiscal responsibility” panel.

And while fatcat union bosses toss hundreds of millions of dues into Democrat coffers, low-wage SEIU members’ pension funds are eroding and the organization’s debt is piling up. The union also remains under investigation by federal prosecutors for potential illegal lobbying activities at the White House.

A nasty fight in San Francisco with a rival union, UNITE HERE, has caused Stern major headaches and litigation costs.

As I reported in December, health care workers in Washington state also revolted against SEIU pressure.

And the Blago scandal, in which Stern plays a central role, still looms.

Union heavies don’t just relinquish their control and throw themselves under the bus for the standard bogus Beltway excuses (the need to “spend more time with family,” etc.).

This smells. Stay tuned.

***

Is Stern bowing to the ascendancy of AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka? Trumka has ratcheted up the class warfare rhetoric, scored far Left accolades for his corporate-bashing speech at Harvard, and is planning to lead a march on Wall Street on April 29. An interesting passage buried in the Washingtonian piece Stern bragged about:

Stern has played a prominent role in the mood of factionalism, engineering SEIU’s departure from the AFL-CIO in 2005 to found Change to Win with a clutch of other growth-minded labor organizations such as the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Change to Win’s agenda was essentially to elevate the SEIU model of organizing—recruiting members and pressuring employers via corporate-accountability campaigns that targeted the public image of management—to serve as the industry standard for labor organizing. A no-less-prominent goal of Change to Win was Stern’s vision of a reorganized national leadership for labor—a federation that would streamline smaller, traditional craft-affiliated union locals into bigger operations able to organize across an economic sector. The textbook model of the corporate campaign was SEIU’s Justice for Janitors initiative in the 1990s, which proved influential in shoring up the International union’s power base.

But on balance, the Change to Win experiment has proved disappointing—and the federation may well be on the verge of being folded into a new accord to bring Stern and his allies back into strategic alliance with Richard Trumka, the former United Mine Workers head who last September was elected to succeed retiring AFL-CIO head John Sweeney. Negotiations with the former mother union are delicate, Stern says, but are moving gingerly forward—thanks in large part to the efforts of former Michigan representative David Bonior, an ardent labor advocate who once served as House Democratic whip, to bring both federations to the bargaining table this summer.

“You now have the first chance for every major labor union in the country to be in the same organization,” Stern says. The challenge, he stresses, will be to redress the schism that triggered the Change to Win camp’s defection in the first place—the mandate to keep growing versus focusing on politics and politicians.

“It’s a political-will question,” Stern says. “I’d say John Sweeney was still concerned about people having left the AFL, and his idea was everyone should rejoin it. I think the answer to this is really building something new that takes the best ideas from everybody, building something that works for the 21st century.”

He won’t project a timeline for an AFL agreement but says, “We’re extraordinarily close to solving this issue in a couple-of-stages process.

Gulp: Are we about to see a re-merger of SEIU and AFL-CIO into a new 21st-century Big Labor Frankenstein?

Question: Are we looking at the death throes of forced unionism — or its resurrection?

***

Update 11:29pm Eastern: SEIU issues statement in response to resignation buzz…

“The 2.2-million member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is an organization united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.

“This week, the SEIU Executive Committee is gathering in Washington, DC, for a three-day meeting where it will celebrate the monumental achievement and the role of the union in passing healthcare reform. During that meeting, there will be a series of discussions regarding the union’s future, including our plans for growth in our core industries, our work to reform the financial institutions that trashed our economy, and our efforts to hold elected leaders accountable to working families.

“Over the past few months, there has been increasing speculation regarding SEIU President Andy Stern’s intention to step down as president at the end of his term in 2012. President Stern will address these rumors at the close of the SEIU Executive Committee meeting this week.”

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