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Monday, April 12, 2010

UPDATED & CONFIRMED: SEIU's Andy Stern to Resign

This just in: Andy Stern, of the controversial Service Employees International Union is resigning his position as President of the purple behemonth, according to Politico's Ben Smith.
Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern, one of America's most prominent labor leaders, is set to resign, according to a member of the union's board.

The President of an SEIU local based in Seattle, Diane Sosne, broke the news to her staffers at 11:35 this morning, local time.

"Last night I received confirmation that Andy Stern is resigning as President of SEIU. He has not yet made a public announcement; we will share the details as we become aware of them," Sosne wrote in an email obtained by POLITICO.

Sosne offered no explanation for the move.

Sosne isn't seen as a Stern loyalist or a central union player, but she's a respected former nurse who sits on the international's board as president of SEIU Local 1199NW, which represents nurses. She and her assistant didn't respond to questions about the email. Stern's spokeswoman also didn't immediately respond to a question about the email.

The SEIU has emerged as a central political player and has grown rapidly under Stern's tenure, and some close to him had expected him to resign during the first term of the president he helped elect, and after the achievement he'd spent years focusing on, widening access to health care. But he's also waged a series of bitter battles inside the labor movement, one of the nastiest of which turned in SEIU's favor with a California court ruling last week. Stern also won a victory when Obama named his union's lawyer, Craig Becker, to the National Labor Relations board over Republican objections in a recess appointment last month.

As noted above, Stern's resignation comes only days following the SEIU's hollow victory over the NUHW, a rival union formed by ousted leaders of the SEIU-UHW and less than two weeks after Stern called a truce in the union wars he began in 2005.

While Smith's blog does not give a reason for Stern's sudden resignation, nor is there a successor named as yet, we suspect that the real reason Stern may be resigning is that he has become too big a distraction for the broader labor movement.

[Update]  Confirmed by HuffPo:
SEIU President Andy Stern, one of labor's most powerful leaders, is set to step down from his post, sources with knowledge of his decision tell the Huffington Post.

[snip] 

But those close to him say he wanted to tackle different, more personal activities at this stage in his career. The passage of health care reform presented a sound achievement from which to depart from his presidential post. And while he was currently in the process of launching a third-party initiative in North Carolina -- to challenge those House Democrats who voted against health care reform legislation -- he was also growing tired of the daily grind, a source close to Stern says.

As the chief architect of the 2005 break-up of the AFL-CIO, Stern's resignation does leave an opening for the SEIU to begin discussions with the AFL-CIO to rejoin the rest of the labor movement, following five years of union apostacy.

We will keep you informed as this develops.
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“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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