Wednesday, September 19, 2018

SEIU’s Andy Stern Joins Billionaires, Not Union Members, in Election Campaign

SEIU's Andy Stern
SEIU President Emeritus Andy Stern has once again shown his true colors.

In an upcoming election for a seat in California’s legislature, Stern has jumped in on the side of billionaires to back a corporate Democrat who’s challenging a union member supported by progressive organizations, multiple local unions, Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and California-based unions inside SEIU.

The November election pits Jovanka Beckles -- a Teamster, two-term Richmond city councilmember and DSA member -- against Buffy Wicks, a former White House official and Clinton Super PAC director who recently relocated to California and has never held elected office.

According to records from the California Secretary of State, Stern has made two contributions to Wicks this year. When contributing the funds, Stern identified himself as a “consultant” for Grandview, LLC, a corporation founded by Stern soon after he resigned as President of SEIU in April 2010. (See below.)

Incorporation documents confirm Stern’s role in the company (see below). Stern may use the corporation as a vehicle for his consulting gigs with tech companies like Uber and AirBnB. Stern’s company is registered to a Washington, DC apartment -- presumably Stern’s -- which appears to have a “grand view” of the Potomac River.
Jovanka Beckles (left) and Buffy Wicks (right)

The race for the California legislative seat has features similar to recent electoral contests in the US including the one between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joe Crowley.

During this spring’s primary election, Wicks received $1.2 million from “wealthy donors tied to Lyft, Uber, and Bay Area tech firms, charter school interests, major landlords, a health care industry PAC, and Govern for California, a business-oriented Super PAC created by the board chair of Walmart and a former top advisor to Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,” according to an article authored by labor journalist Steve Early. (Steve Early, “Teamster Tackles Corporate Democrat in California Assembly Race,” Labor Notes, August 31, 2018)

The "grand view" of the Potomac from the DC apartment
If you’re curious about Wicks’ donors, check out this interesting website -- -- which offers details about Wicks’ donors including billionaires Ron Conway and Reid Hoffman.

“In contrast,” says Early, “Beckles raised and spent only about $160,000, mostly in smaller, in-state donations. She ran as a “people-powered” candidate, free of corporate money and relied on few paid staffers or outside consultants.” Beckles supports “workers’ and tenants’ rights, single payer health care, and getting big money out of politics,” says Early.

Here's an interview with Beckles in Jacobin Magazine: "We Need a New Economy That Works for the Many” 

Early writes:
Ex-SEIU President Andy Stern is an individual endorser of Wicks—despite the fact that two major SEIU locals and their state council favor Beckles. Since leaving the union, Stern has become a corporate board member and gig economy consultant… In the Assembly District 15 race today, California single-payer advocates favor Beckles over Wicks, whose position on health care reform is much weaker.
If Beckles’ consistent solidarity with local labor causes is reciprocated through sufficient union voter turnout and spending on her behalf, she may indeed be joining the Assembly in January.
And there, she will be a rare “corporate-free” voice for many other working class and poor Californians whose interests tend to be overlooked by state legislators who do take money from business PACs and industry associations.

Beckles is backed by multiple unions including the National Union of Healthcare Workers, Transit (ATU) Local 192, University Professional and Technical Employees (CWA), Teamsters Joint Council 7, SEIU Local 1021, the Alameda and Contra Costa County Labor Councils, the California Labor Federation, both statewide teachers’ unions, AFSCME, and the California Nurses Association.