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Andrew L. Stern (born November 22, 1950) is the former president[3][4] of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which had 2.2 million members.[5][6] He is now President Emeritus of SEIU, which added more than 1.2 million workers during his tenure. Called a "courageous, visionary leader who charted a bold new course for American unionism,"[7] Stern has been featured on 60 Minutes[8] and CNN,[9] as Fox News Power Player of the Week,[10] and on the covers of the New York Times Magazine,[11] Fortune,[12] and Businessweek.[13] Under Stern's leadership, SEIU became the largest union in the AFL-CIO and the fastest growing union in the world. Then after promoting a debate on the future of American labor, in a bold move, SEIU left the AFL-CIO with six other unions and formed a new labor alliance called Change to Win.[14][11] Stern was a senior fellow at Columbia University.[15] He is now a Senior Fellow at the Economic Security Project.

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 68)
West Orange, New Jersey,
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Jane Perkins (Divorced) Jennifer Johnson
ChildrenMatthew And
Cassie Stern (deceased) Claire, Isabel, and Alex Beckenstein
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania

Stern has been described by CBS News as the "most important labor boss in America."[16] Stern is unapologetic about holding private equity firms accountable, questioning business and political leaders practices, and competing to build SEIU's membership: "We like to say: We use the power of persuasion first. If it doesn't work, we try the persuasion of power".[17] Stern supported expansion of union ranks via the Employee Free Choice Act[18][failed verification] and regulations on business, profit sharing, and retirement security for employees and more equitable tax policy.[19][failed verification]

He was a Presidential appointee on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, best known as Simpson-Bowles.

He is Chair of the Board of the Broad Center, and was a Board Member of the Open Society Foundations (2010-2019), and the Hillman Foundation. In March 2010, Stern was the Alice B. Grant Labor Leader in Residence at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

He is the author of two books, A Country That Works (2006),[20] and Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream (2016).[21] The FT wrote in its review of Raising the Floor,

Technology, as Stern sees it, overwhelms everything else, including the American dream itself. While he is persuaded that automation and information technology will make many jobs obsolete and thereby hurt workers, he does not suggest holding back technological change. He looks for policies to make the unpredictable lifestyle of a gig worker more tolerable – above all, universal basic income, where a regular cash amount is given to every citizen regardless of whether or not they work.[22]

Early life and careerEdit

He grew up Jewish 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.[23] 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.[24][25] 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.[25] In 1980, he was elected, as the youngest member in its history, to the union's international executive board, and in 1984 the union's then-president John Sweeney put him in charge of its organizing efforts.

In 1996, Stern was elected to the presidency of the union. After launching a national debate[26] 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.[27] Stern led SEIU out of the AFL-CIO and founded Change to Win,[28] a six-million-member federation of seven major unions "dedicated to giving workers a voice at their jobs".

Stern was a senior fellow at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute from 2010 to 2011. From 2011 to 2016, he has served as a Senior Fellow at the Richard Paul Richman Center for Business Law and Public Policy at Columbia University.[29]

In 2016, Stern authored a book with Lee Kravitz entitled Raising the Floor,[30] in which he makes the case for a universal basic income.[31]

Internet and new mediaEdit

Stern has embraced political organizing via the Internet in the wake of the Howard Dean campaign, which his union endorsed.[32] In fall of 2005, he launched an online contest called Since Sliced Bread that awarded $100,000 for the best new economic idea in America. Since 2005, Stern has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.[33]

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.[34]

Through Stern's initiative, a New Media team was formed at SEIU in the late summer of 2008. The union's website was completely redesigned and relaunched shortly after.[35]

A Country That WorksEdit

In the book, 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.[36] On October 3, 2006, he appeared on The Colbert Report to promote his new book A Country That Works.[37] On October 4, he appeared on Democracy Now! to promote the book.[38]


Stern announced on April 13, 2010, that he would be stepping down as president of the SEIU.[39] "There's 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", Andy Stern wrote on April 14, 2010.

Personal lifeEdit

Stern is divorced from Jane Perkins, a former head of the environmental network Friends of the Earth.[40] They had two children, Matt and Cassie. Cassie died in 2002.[2] 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.

Political influenceEdit

During the years of Stern's leadership, the SEIU became the largest political action committee in the United States,[41] and funneled vast amounts of financing to the Democratic Party and its candidates, far outnumbering the contributions of other unions during the last two election cycles. SEIU contributed $65 million to the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry.[42] SEIU required all candidates seeking the union’s endorsement to “Walk A Day In My Shoes” including Senator Barack Obama as a home care worker[43] and Hillary Clinton as a nurse, 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,[44] with a significant chunk of that money funding door-to-door canvassing and other GOTV efforts,[45] as well as voter registration.

Stern has been the most frequent visitor to the White House since Obama's election.[46][47] Between Inauguration Day and February 23, 2011, Stern visited the White House 53 times.[48]

Stern is referred to as one of "the chief architects of healthcare reform" in Modern Healthcare magazine, ranking in the top 10[49] 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.[50]


"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.[51] On January 27, 2009, SEIU placed UHW West under trusteeship and dismissed 70 of the local's executives, including president Sal Rosselli.[52][53] 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.[54] SEIU filed a lawsuit in mid-2009 alleging that UHW West and NUHW officials embezzled millions of dollars.[55] 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.[56][57] 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".[58]


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External linksEdit