Friday, January 25, 2019

Andy Stern’s “Mini-me” Leaves SEIU Local, Publishes Lame Manifesto

David Rolf

Andy Stern’s mini-me -- David Rolf -- has termed out of his job as the president of SEIU Local 775… but not before penning a lame manifesto that once again marks SEIU’s conservative position in the US labor movement.

Instead of organizing workers and conducting strikes -- like United Teachers of Los Angeles’s 30,000 teachers -- Rolf preaches labor-management partnerships and lots of technocratic masturbation.

For those who don’t know him, Rolf is the guy who teamed up with Stern to serve as “cheerleaders” and “circus barkers” for Uber and other tech firms pushing poverty jobs on millions of US workers.

He also set up an outfit modeled after business incubators for tech start-up firms that, says Rolf, will help rebuild the US labor movement. At Rolf’s “Workers Lab,” Stanford business professors instruct “labor innovators” about how to “monetize” their unions’ members by using apps to "mine" and then sell a variety of personal data captured from workers.

Um, so that’s what the labor movement needs?

Labor Notes published a takedown of Rolf’s latest manifesto, which he entitled “A Roadmap to Rebuilding Worker Power.” Here are some excerpts from the Labor Notes piece (Chris Brooks, “Labor's Real Innovators Will Come from the Ranks, Not the Corporate World,Labor Notes, October 24, 2018.)
Outgoing SEIU Local 775 President David Rolf is the most prominent exponent of this dead-end approach. His new book proposes that unions stay relevant by pursuing nine “value propositions.”
…But Rolf has little to say about what I would consider a union’s main job—fighting the boss.
In a book ostensibly about worker power, the word “strike” appears eight times, while “partnership” appears 62.
Rolf wants to “innovate” unions into a totally different kind of organization—one that’s more of a business. “It’s time for us to accept that innovation needs to be the new religion,” he writes.
Thanks but no thanks. Give me that old-time religion.
…it wasn’t self-described “innovators” who produced the teacher uprising that’s spreading across the country today. “Red for Ed” came from teachers.
These battles were successful because they tapped into rank-and-file creativity. They’re a reminder that the best sources of innovation and power are found within our own ranks—even though too many of our leaders are always looking elsewhere.