SEIU officially has a new head, Mary Kay Henry. One of Big Labor’s own media voices perhaps painted the picture least tainted by PR “bloat.”
For her part, Mary Kay Henry has been rapidly accumulating plaudits that are similarly disconnected from reality, although widely disseminated by media outlets ranging from Politico to The New York Times to our very own In These Times. For example, it was actually suggested earlier this week, in the Times, that Henry is “someone fresh and new,” when in fact she is a quintessential product of the SEIU managerial class recruited and installed by Stern or his predecessor, John Sweeney, over the last 30 years.
As to her qualifications to represent “working people?” Again, quoting from Working In These Times:
Unlike Stern and Burger—but like a majority of those elevated to high positions by them—Henry has never been a working member of SEIU. She joined the union staff as a researcher in 1979. She managed to get on the IEB, as a Stern appointee, 17 years later without ever having been elected to any local union position—not shop steward, negotiator, e-board member, or president. She has never even run a local union as a Stern-appointed trustee (the usual path to upward mobility in SEIU for college-educated staffers hired from the outside).
So what should we expect from Mary Kay, and the SEIU? According to some of her recent statements:
• SEIU will have 120,000 new members
• $4 million will be allocated to organize sectors where union representation is weak, such as banks and grocery stores
• She will not work to bring SEIU back into the AFL-CIO, which is at odds with recent statements by AFL-CIO head Trumka
• SEIU will “expand” its political efforts in 2010
• SEIU will reverse the trend of the national leadership pushing policy down to the local level, and will instead provide more support to the locals
• She will push to settle the dispute over jurisdiction and assets with UNITE HERE
One unspoken agenda item will be working to stem the tide of workers attempting desperately to leave the SEIU for rival upstart, NUHW. Although the SEIU has attempted to block elections for more than 11,000 workers, and allow elections only when they feel they have a strong chance of winning, the election outcomes still keep falling to the side of the NUHW.
What will Andy Stern do now that he is unemployed? Apparently, he will hit the speaking circuit to capitalize on his notoriety. According to a press release from his new agent, Leading Authorities,
Stern will be addressing audiences about politics and issues such as fiscal policy, entitlements, immigration, healthcare, and the future of the labor movement. He will speak independently, and also be matched with leading Republican thinkers.