Friday, January 20, 2017

Critic Slams SEIU’s Andy Stern for Selling Out Workers

Andy Stern and David Cote, CEO of Honeywell
Jay Youngdahl, a labor and civil rights lawyer, is part of a growing chorus of voices attacking Andy Stern for his latest sellout of US workers.

Youngdahl’s piece, entitled “In the Fantasy Land of Labor Theorists: Andy Stern’s Latest Contribution,” was published by In These Times on January 19, 2017. 

In it, Youngdahl describes Stern’s proposal to allow states to replace federal labor laws with rules of their own choosing as “outlandish,” “ridiculous,” “make-believe,” and “anti-union.”

The article was published a day before protesters barricaded the San Francisco headquarters of one of Stern’s newest corporate patrons, Uber

Protesters targeted the tech company due to the Uber CEO’s decision to serve on Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum along with Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, Stephen Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group, and other corporate fatcats. One protester told USA Today: "We came out today to tell the CEO of Uber that we don't agree with him collaborating with the Trump Administration on labor practices."

S,F, protested Uber's collaboration with Trump
Youngdahl’s article was published the same day that Uber agreed to pay a “$20 million to settle allegations that it duped people into driving for its ride-hailing service with false promises about how much they would earn,” according to the Associated Press.

Bloomberg recently reported that Stern is working as a highly paid consultant for Handy, Airbnb, Uber, and other tech companies to help them pass new laws to fend off workers’ class-action lawsuits and to loosen labor laws and government oversight.

Here are some excerpts from Youngdahl’s piece. The full text is available here.
Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), now works for gig economy “platform” companies and is lobbying for a New York law to refuse employee protections for workers at Handy and other such companies. He recently penned an article in National Affairs, along with right-wing think tanker Eli Lehrer of the R Street Institute.
Stern has been talking about the future of the labor movement for years, with a dazzling variety of solutions and approaches. Remember his claim, and $14 million of SEIU money, that call centers were essential to “high-quality member representation?”
It is important to note that Stern’s ideas are similar to those of anti-union think tanks like the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which produced F. Vincent Vernuccio, now a member of Trump’s transition team at the Department of Labor. Vernuccio co-wrote a piece entitled “Right-to-Work Strengthens Unions.” In their article, Stern and Lehrer similarly embrace right-to-work, as it is, in their words, “unfair to force representation on workers who don’t want it.”
…[T]hose in Stern’s make-believe world preach that all can be harmonious between labor and capital, ignoring American history and the explosive growth of income inequality. Collective bargaining and workers’ struggle are not only discounted; they are often ridiculed.
No one disputes that unions are in deep, deep trouble. But the advice of those who profit off their “expert” opinions… suffers from a separation from the actual lives of workers. New ideas arise out of struggle, not from foundations, corporate shills or right-wing think tanks… As inequality and its consequences mount, even more struggles and progressive formations will emerge. They are likely to be imperfect and messy, but from them useful ideas as to the future of collective worker action will become clearer. One thing is sure, though: Such a vision will not come from Stern.