Andy Stern

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Andy Stern
President of the Service Employees International Union
In office
Preceded byRichard Cordtz
Succeeded byMary Kay Henry
Personal details
Born (1950-11-22) November 22, 1950 (age 72)
West Orange, New Jersey,
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Jane Perkins (Divorced)
Jennifer Johnson
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BA)

Andrew L. Stern (born November 22, 1950) is the former president[2][3] of the Service Employees International Union,[4][5] and now serves as its President Emeritus.

Stern has been a senior fellow at Georgetown University,[6] Columbia University,[7] and is now a Senior Fellow at the Economic Security Project.

Under his leadership SEIU became both the fastest growing union in the world, growing to 1,200,000 members,[8] and the largest political action committee (PAC)[9][circular reference] in the United States.

As SEIU President, Stern was a constant figure in the news. He was on the covers of The New York Times Magazine , Fortune, and Business Week, featured on CBS 60 Minutes, on Fox as the Power Player of the Week, CNN, and the Washington Post. He talks about his career and philosophy on the podcast The Great Battlefield [1]

He is the author of two books, A Country That Works (2006),[10] and Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream (2016).[11]

Stern was a key organizer and leader in two of the most significant changes in social policy in the 21st century: healthcare reform and a guaranteed income. According to Modern Healthcare magazine Stern was one of "the chief architects of healthcare reform." SEIU participated in over 12 coalitions with business leaders, labor and advocates, hosted the first Presidential primary in 2008 on healthcare, and after President Obama's election created a war room with over 100 staff in the states advocating until the successful completion of the legislative process.[12]

Stern’s book, Raising the Floor, discussed his exploration into the future of work and jobs leading to his leadership on providing cash, and a guaranteed income for all American. Stern's book and conversations helped spark Andrew Yang’s candidacy for President[13] promoting his platform of creating a universal basic income. With other organizers Stern assisted in the founding of the Economic Security Project,[14] and serves on the board of the Income Movement. Stern was an early organizer for cash benefits and a guaranteed income which led to the passage of the Child Tax Credit as well as setting the stage for an increasing number of local experiments, as well as the American Recovery Act’s cash stimulus payments.[15]

Early life and career[edit]

Andy Stern grew up in West Orange, New Jersey, where his father was a lawyer and his mother worked both at home and in healthcare. Stern graduated from West Orange High School in 1968.[16] He began college as a business major at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, but ultimately graduated in 1971 with a BA in education and urban planning.[17][18] Stern began his career as a welfare caseworker and member of the SEIU Local 668 in 1973, eventually being elected president in 1977 of his Pennsylvania local.[18] In 1980, he was elected to SEIU’s International Executive Board, as the youngest member in its history, and in 1984 the union's then-president John Sweeney put him in charge of SEIU’s organizing efforts.

SEIU President[edit]

In 1996, Stern was elected to the presidency of the union in a hotly contested election. He led a major restructuring of the union to “grow stronger not smaller” spending nearly 50% of its resources on organizing.[2] In 1999 SEIU won the largest union election since 1935 for 74,000 LA home care workers.IN BIGGEST DRIVE SINCE 1937, UNION GAINS A VICTORY By 2000 SEIU had become the largest union in the AFL-CIO, and the fastest growing union in the world. It launched major North American campaigns “Justice for Janitors”,Historic Justice for Janitors campaign inspires a new generation “Stand for Security,” “There’s No Place Like Home” (home care workers), as well as child care, Southern, hospital and nursing home workers, and set up offices around the world to lead transnational global accountability efforts for Sodexo, Securitas, and ISS.[3] As a result of these efforts, SEIU grew 1,200,000 members under his leadership.

Stern was both a progressive and practical labor leader as Al Hunt profiled in his WSJ column,[19] "He (Stern) is a powerhouse in the labor movement and American politics, and one of a new breed of labor leaders determined to energize the movement." The Washington Business Journal profile was headlined "Militant but pragmatic labor leader wants a vibrant D.C."[20]

After launching a national debate[21] aimed at uniting the nine out of ten American workers who have no organization at work, SEIU, along with the Teamsters, announced on July 25, 2005 that they were disaffiliating from the AFL-CIO.[22] Stern led SEIU out of the AFL-CIO and founded Change to Win,[23] a six-million-member federation of seven major unions "dedicated to giving workers a voice at their jobs."

Political Influence[edit]

During the years of Stern's leadership, the SEIU became the largest political action committee in the United States,[24] and funneled vast amounts of financing to the Democratic Party and its candidates, far outnumbering the contributions of other unions during his last two election cycles. SEIU contributed $65 million to the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry.[25] In 2008 SEIU sponsored with the Center for American Progress (CAP),[26] the first Presidential election forum, on health care, and required all candidates seeking the union's endorsement to “Walk A Day In My Shoes” including Senator Barack Obama as a home care worker[27] Hillary Clinton as a nurse, and Joe Biden as a school maintenance worker, and have a plan for universal healthcare. The union spent another $85 million on Democratic candidates in 2008; $60 million going toward the election of President Barack Obama,[28] with a significant chunk of that money funding door-to-door canvassing and other GOTV efforts,[29] as well as voter registration.

Stern along with Harold Ickes, Ellen Malcolm, Steve Rosenthal, and George Soros, and other activists founded and funded America Coming Together (ACT) the largest independent expenditure in history at that time for grassroots organizing in an effort to defeat the re-election of President George Bush.[30]

Stern has been the most frequent visitor to the White House since Obama's election.[31][32] Between Inauguration Day and February 23, 2011, Stern visited the White House 53 times.[33]

And SEIU's political organizing and advocacy changed the lives of workers in state after state. As Harold Meyerson wrote in the LA Times,[34] "Andy Stern has arguably been the most influential non-Californian in the affairs of California in the past 15 years...Stern has shaped the state’s politics and much of its economy."


Stern is referred to as one of "the chief architects of healthcare reform" in Modern Healthcare magazine, ranking in the top 10[35] of the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare. Stern has been named to Modern Healthcare's annual "movers and shakers in healthcare" list for five years in a row. SEIU poured millions into a group called Health Care for America NOW!, which, at times, fought strongly for universal healthcare including single payer. Stern was an ardent supporter of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[36]

Media and Internet[edit]

Andy Stern, as SEIU President, was a constant figure in the news. He was on the covers of The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, and Business Week, featured on CBS 60 Minutes, on Fox as the Power Player of the Week, CNN, and the Washington Post

Stern embraced political organizing via the Internet in the wake of the Howard Dean campaign, which his union endorsed.[37]

Through Stern's initiative, a New Media team was formed at SEIU in the late summer of 2008, the first major union to enter the digital age. The union's website was completely redesigned and relaunched shortly thereafter,[38] and Stern began to blog on the Huffington Post. Andy Stern | HuffPost

In fall of 2005, he launched an online contest called Since Sliced Bread that awarded $100,000 for the best new economic ideas in America. Since 2005, Stern had been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.[39]

Stern has been a key figure in financing the online grassroots "netroots" community, along with Dean, George Soros, Simon Rosenberg, and Andrew S. Rappaport, to funnel a progressive agenda to liberal bloggers.[40]


Stern announced on April 13, 2010, that he would be stepping down as president of the SEIU. “There is a time to learn, a time to lead, and then there's a time to leave. And shortly it will be my time to retire...and end my SEIU journey,” Stern wrote on April 14, 2010.[41] Health care employers, often at odds with SEIU, begrudgingly wrote, "Regardless of how you feel about Andy Stern, president of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union, there is no denying that he is the most important labor leader of his generation." In response to question of why Stern has left at the height of his success Marick F. Masters, director of the Fraser Center for Workplace Issues and Labor at Wayne State University in Detroit, said... "He had the presence of mind to leave when he is at the top rather than to stay longer,"[42]

Post SEIU Affiliations and Activities[edit]

SEIU honored Stern with the title of President Emeritus in 2010.

In March 2010, Stern was the Alice B. Grant Labor Leader in Residence at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

Stern was a senior fellow at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute from 2010 to 2011. From 2011 to 2016, he served as a Senior Fellow at the Richard Paul Richman Center for Business Law and Public Policy at Columbia University.[43]

He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Economic Security Project. Economic Security Project Stern has served on many non-profit Boards including the Open Society Foundations, the Hillman Foundation, and Broad Foundation, and works with many non-profits and unions on worker organizing.

Written works[edit]

A Country That Works (Free Press), Stern calls for unions to be the dominant vehicles for the promotion of social reforms, including espousing the benefits of increased taxation on the wealthy and universal health care.[44] On October 3, 2006, he appeared on The Colbert Report to promote his new book A Country That Works.[45] On October 4, he appeared on Democracy Now! to promote the book.[46]

In 2016, Stern authored a book with Lee Kravitz entitled Raising the Floor,[47] in which he makes the case for a universal basic income.[48] The book was a catalyst to a renewed debate about and experimentation with universal basic income, the founding of the Economic Security Project, and Andrew Yang’s 2020 presidential campaign.Andrew Yang on Facebook Watch

Andrew Yang credited Stern with his decision to run for President in 2020 on a platform of universal basic income, calling his UBI proposal-the “Freedom Dividend.”[49]

Personal life[edit]

Stern is divorced from Jane Perkins, a former head of the environmental network Friends of the Earth.[50] They had two children, Matt and Cassie. Cassie died in 2002.[51] In 2017, Stern married Jennifer Johnson, a former Communications Director for the Center for Food Action in northern NJ, and the mother of Claire, Alex, and Isabel Beckenstein.


"He's arguably the most important labor leader we've had in a long time: aggressive and controversial," says Philip Dine, an authority on labor issues and author of the recent book State of the Unions.[52] On January 27, 2009, SEIU placed UHW West under trusteeship and dismissed 70 of the local's executives, including president Sal Rosselli.[53][54] Rosselli and other ousted leaders reformed under the National Union of Healthcare Workers and pushed for UHW West members at 60 facilities to vote to decertify SEIU.[55] SEIU filed a lawsuit in mid-2009 alleging that UHW West and NUHW officials embezzled millions of dollars.[56] In 2009 Former Labor Secretary Ray Marshall issued a report, "Acting as hearing officer, Mr. Marshall found that the local's president, Sal Rosselli, and other union officials had improperly transferred union money to a nonprofit group to use in a feud with the parent union.[57][58] Mr. Marshall also concluded that the local had wrongly hidden $500,000 from the parent union by placing the money into a lawyer's trust account." On March 26, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court ruling that a jury awarded, "... individual judgments ranged from $31,400 to $77,850, and NUHW was assessed damages of $724,000".[59]


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  59. ^ (PDF). 2016-07-01 Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2019-08-03. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Trade union offices
Preceded by President of the Service Employees International Union
Succeeded by