The Los Angeles Times‘ featured an article examining the “curiously close” relationship the SEIU enjoys with the Obama administration.
According to the Times, Andy Stern visits the White House at least once a week and enjoys nearly unfettered access to top administration officials on policy issues ranging from healthcare to immigration.
The SEIU enjoys unparalleled opportunities to help shape and mold policy in the Obama Administration. When the President met privately with the healthcare industry’s top leaders, “Stern and a second Service Employees International Union official were the only labor representatives in the room.”
Stern has successfully placed current and former SEIU officials throughout the Administration in key posts:
Stern can boast that union officials are scattered throughout the Obama administration. White House political director Patrick Gaspard is a former executive at an SEIU local based in New York. No other union has placed anyone at such a high level in the White House. Anna Burger, SEIU secretary-treasurer, was appointed to Obama’s economic recovery board. And union associate counsel John Sullivan was named to the six-member Federal Election Commission.
Don’t forget that the SEIU managed to get the White House involved in its dispute with the state of California over pay cuts for home healthcare workers:
The SEIU’s access to the White House also has left California officials unsettled. Earlier this year, the Obama administration invited the SEIU to take part in a conference call centering on a dispute over pay cuts to home healthcare workers represented by the union. State officials said the union’s involvement in a government-to-government conference seemed inappropriate.
The Times‘ piece never reaches the point of overtly criticizing the SEIU’s relationship with the White House, but these examples should be unsettling for anyone concerned with labor’s disproportionate influence on policy. It’s not just the SEIU who enjoys such an advantageous relationship; recall that the Administration rolled back union transparency requirements as requested by the AFL-CIO.
Meanwhile, President Obama famously wrote that he “owes” the SEIU and a few other unions for supporting him in his bid for the Illinois statehouse.