Friday, May 6, 2016

SEIU’s Fast-Buck Entrepreneurs

SEIU's Andy Stern
After SEIU officials’ backroom lap dance with Airbnb execs was abruptly interrupted, Randy Shaw of “Beyond Chron” penned a piece that examines the profiteering of former SEIU and Obama administration officials.

SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern, for example, is involved in at least three for-profit ventures... including a biowarfare pharmaceutical company owned by his billionaire patron, Ron Perelman, the 78th richest person in the world. 

In addition, Stern recently became a high-paid consultant for Airbnb, which ostensibly hired him to grease the wheels inside the Purple Palace. Stern was reportedly helping Airbnb reach a deal with SEIU that critics say would have given the $25.5 billion company political cover for driving up housing costs, intensifying gentrification, and undercutting hotel workers' jobs.

What do Andy Stern, Jon Carson, David Plouffe, and Jim Messina all have in common? Each played key roles in Barack Obama’s campaigns promoting “Change We Can Believe In” and now work for for-profit corporations or conservative candidates. 
Why have these and others like former SEIU staffer Christopher Nulty (now at Airbnb) and former NextGen organizer Chris Lehane (also at Airbnb) shifted their energies from working for progressive change in the public sector to private pursuits?

SEIU's Christopher Nulty
Who’s Nulty? 

He was SEIU President Mary Kay Henry’s speechwriter and Chief Communications Aide, as described in this recent post. He left SEIU to take jobs at Yahoo and Airbnb, where he currently serves as Airbnb’s Public Affairs Lead for the eastern half of North America.

Shaw goes on to deliver a smackdown of Stern, whom he calls “the worst stereotype of the fast buck entrepreneur.”
Larry Cohen v Andy Stern
Let’s start with the most obvious contrast, that of the post-retirement actions of two leading union supporters of Obama in 2008: Larry Cohen, former head of the Communication Workers of America, and Andy Stern, who left SEIU in 2010. 
Since leaving CWA, Cohen has continued to work for progressive change. Cohen probably did more than anyone else to build labor support for the Bernie Sanders campaign, indirectly moving Clinton and the Democratic Party to the left on trade and other issues of concern to working people. 
Stern, in contrast, has gone from representing Big Pharma to his recent ill-conceived plan to forge a deal between SEIU and Airbnb on unionizing maids that bypassed UNITE HERE (and violated the jurisdictional agreement between the two unions). He’s become the worst stereotype of the fast buck entrepreneur… 
Stern was the labor official most passionate about Barack Obama in 2008. Yet today it almost seems unbelievable that he was even part of the labor movement.

Here’s a link to the full article.