Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Exonerated: Andy Stern Wasn’t the Most Frequent White House Visitor!

According to analyses of the White House visitor logs released last year, former SEIU president Andy Stern was the most frequent visitor to the White House. This fact was repeated often by many SEIU critics, who wondered why Stern was spending so much time in Washington instead of addressing the concerns of his workers.

Well Rensselaer Polytech Institute recently crunched the numbers again, and Stern has been officially exonerated!

So, it turns out that as of May, when the Rensselaer team last went through the list, the most frequent visitor to the White House was (drum roll, please) Anna Burger.

Anna Burger? She was just ahead of Robert Wolf and Andrew Stern. Other names on the top-15 list were more familiar: Sens. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., as well as Richard Trumka of the United Mine Workers Union (editor’s note: I think he meant the AFL-CIO).

So the SEIU isn’t guilty of sending its number one official to Washington more than anyone else to push its agenda on the president. It was the SEIU’s number two official who was doing that. Burger is the former secretary-treasurer of the SEIU and a close friend of Stern’s. She was widely expected to succeed Stern when he stepped down earlier this year, but ended up losing the leadership election to Mary Kay Henry. Why? Burger was, well, a lot like Andy Stern.

Burger was either “not widely liked” or “widely disliked,” according to many SEIU officials and staff.  Critics saw her as “mean” or a “bully.”  Various reports described her presentations of her candidacy this past week as stiff and arrogant. She was closely identified with Stern, especially his emphasis on political action that has only grown since he led the split of the AFL-CIO to form Change to Win.

Henry’s election was widely viewed in the labor community as a repudiation of Stern and Burger. Specifically, workers were tired of Stern’s constant saber-rattling with other unions and his obsession with making Washington connections. But has Henry really changed anything? The SEIU is still waging its wars with other labor groups. It’s still wasting massive amounts of money to influence elections.

We’ll have to wait and see if Mary Kay Henry turns up in the White House visitor logs too.

Categories: Center for Union FactsSEIU