New SEIU head wants to steer union away from politics 

In a somewhat surprising move, Service Employees International Union treasurer, Anna “the Queen of Labor” Burger, has not been tapped to replace exiting SEIU leader Andrew Stern. John Fund reports on the new SEIU head:

Mary Kay Henry, leader of SEIU’s California nurses local, is said to want to reorient the union away from political action and back to old-fashioned organizing. Anna Burger, Mr. Stern’s protégé, was seen as poorly-suited to deal with SEIU’s bottom line — the fact that its pension programs have been neglected and underfunded and the union itself is $85 million in debt. While its political clout in Washington and its hand-in-glove relationship with the Obama administration was impressive under Mr. Stern, he seemed to forget that a union needs to recruit new members and work with others in the labor movement.

No one doubts that SEIU will continue to play a crucial role in Democratic Party politics. But its turn away from the Stern approach of making the union into a financial and manpower arm of the Democratic Party is a sign an overdue internal reevaluation has been taking place.

Just judging from White House visitor logs, Burger was obviously much more politically connected than Mark Kay Henry. But I’ll believe that the SEIU is becoming less political when I see it.

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Mark Hemingway

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