Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

I'm going to do an interview with Stern on some public policy issues.  What do you want to hear him talk about?

Tags: Andy Stern, Labor, SEIU (all tags)

Comments

31 Comments

Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

What kind of checks and balances do you place on local union leaders to keep them from giving sweetheart deals to management instead of fighting for the working rights of local members as has been seen in the past by some local officials of other unions?

When negotiating a deal, do you only try to look out your members, or do you attempt to create a deal that is beneficial to both management and union members?  

by yitbos96bb 2007-01-31 06:49AM | 0 recs
Which side are you on???

Just wondering if you can give some examples of the, "sweetheart deals", that you make reference to?

Also, i was wondering if you, in fact, are a member of a union, since you seem to have the inside scoop on the workings of unions.

Another thing, unions don't negotiate, "deals". Unions negotiate contracts. These are agreements that are accepted by both the members of the union and representatives of management. It's up to management to look out for their interests, while the elected union officials look out for the interests of their members.

John Foster
GCC/IBT Local 4C

by jfoster 2007-01-31 07:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Which side are you on???

I am 100% pro-union.  I have not worked anywhere that was unionized, except Disney but as a college intern I was not allowed to join.  I do have several family members and friends who are in unions including the teamsters (which represent Disney characters if you didn't know), IBEW,  and teacher's union.  

But these are legitimate questions and are actually some of the samples sited by people who dislike unions.  I have heard several people I know make the comment that they have known local unions (including my wife's uncle who is a teamster) where those in charge are buddy-buddy with the management and when negotiating contracts (which deal was used as another word for but I apologize if this was offensive and will use the proper) don't really fight for the workers but live off their tit, so to speak.  In truth, the idea for these questions came from KALIEDESCOPES comment...

http://www.mydd.com/comments/2007/1/30/1 5744/1514/3#3

These questions are not an indictment of Unions in general... in fact, even though public perception disagrees, the incidents talked about above are definately a small minority.  But the potential for that abuse exists...  I wanted to know how those in charge of the national union keeps that kind of abuse from happening at the local level... what kind of oversight they may have.

As for Question 2, another perception is that some Unions will keep fighting and fighting and would rather keep fighting than compromise.  I don't believe it, but if a union did keep pushing a contract that could lead to a company's bankruptcy (not saying they would) it would be bad for all involved.  Since I have never been involved in a union negotiation, I was wondering if they worked with management to find a solution that is beneficial to them and to management or if they will just keep fighting for a contract that is good for them but bad for the company involved and could lead to bankruptcy.  This was a curiosity question and a good chance for mr stern to explain how union negotiations work for those who don't know.  

So I am pro union... always have and always will be.  But like any organization there are bad apples... I want to know how they try and keep these bad apples from hurting the cause.  

by yitbos96bb 2007-01-31 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Which side are you on???

Basically, these are just questions I wanted to know so I could understand unions better and how they have grown as organizations.

by yitbos96bb 2007-01-31 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

I would ask him about health care and particular the various proposals at the state level.  I am particularly interested in California, obviously, but we are not the only state with a big push for serious reform to our system.

by juls 2007-01-31 07:01AM | 0 recs
in what way...

will unions efforts be co-ordinated with the emerging netroots to create a broader coalition of progressive support?

-C.

by neutron 2007-01-31 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

As a former SEIU Representative, and someone who belonged to a staff Union who had to go on Strike against SEIU for a period of over 7 months because they (NAGE/IBPO/SEIU) fired our organizer, please ask Andy that why as the leader of one of the largest Unions in the Country,  he does not demand and why it is not part of the Change-to-Win Constitution that all hired personnel who either work for CTW or it's affiliates must belong to a staff Union or at lease why there is not a voluntary recognition policy with CTW?

by gkotecki 2007-01-31 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

I would ask why the SEIU, and other unions in general, support the Republican Party on occasion.  Specifically, they are a huge donor to the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee in New York State, with there money helping in the special election coming up next week.  How does that promote union interests when the Republican Party, both in NY and outside, usually drag their feet on workers issues if not outright working against them?

by John Nicosia 2007-01-31 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions
Since we brought Democrats back into power, what is the prospect of reforming the National Labor Relations Act?
How would the NLRA have to be changed to allow every working American to join a union?
How can the netroots help you to reform the NLRA?
How can we put labor rights on the agenda for 2008 so that a Democratic president has to give us NLRA reform?
by Hellmut 2007-01-31 07:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

Why does SEIU 1199 back Republicans in New York instead of fighting for real change by trying to solve the problems of the existing structure in New York?

I understand the need to work within the system, broken or not, to try and help out your constituency but at some point leadership needs to be visionary and look beyond the short term towards creating real change for the long term betterment of the people.

In New York that means getting rid of the old leadership that is blocking reform of state government. That starts with Senate Republicans. It may prove true later that certain Assembly Democrats need to go too but the obvious immediate first step is removing Senate Republicans from majority control.

Why then is SEIU supporting Senate Republicans?

Why the lack of vision?

by Andrew C White 2007-01-31 07:23AM | 0 recs
College Affordability

Congress has taken a couple of major actions to make college more affordable in the first month of the 110th Congress. (lower interest rates on loans, increasing the Pell Grant in the 07 Budget being voted on today)

What does the SEIU think about college affordability as a political issue to help win campaigns or as a issue that impacts SEIU members and their families?

Do you have any plans to be more active on this issue?

by Bill Mason 2007-01-31 07:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

President Stern - Corruption and money in politics scandals played a huge roll in the '06 elections.  We need to make dramatic changes to the way we elect our politicians.  Where do you stand on full public funding of elections, also referred to as Clean Elections?

by amyinri 2007-01-31 07:30AM | 0 recs
Card Check and UofM janitors

Is it a good strategy to support 'card check' federal legislation with a supermajority (60%) like in the University of Miami case rather than the simple majority in a NLRB election?

It seems like 60% is easier to achieve in 'card check' than 50% in a NLRB election and all of the public relations benefits that come with obtaining a supermajority would rebound to the union movement.

Background:
Nathan Newman - http://www.tpmcafe.com/node/29418
Jordan Barab - http://spewingforth.blogspot.com/2006/06 /miami-janitors-overwhelmingly-choose.ht ml
"As part of a previously-agreed upon election process, a neutral third party, the American Arbitration Association, verified that the union had won more than 60 percent support via signed worker pledge cards.

The official count stopped after the 60 percent threshold was reached, but union officials said they had more than 70 percent support in the card check process."

In short, wouldn't a 60% national threshold for 'card check' be a huge improvement over the current NLRB process?

by joejoejoe 2007-01-31 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Card Check and UofM janitors

FYI: see the link below relating to the Employee Free Choice Act(EFCA)

http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceat work/efca/whatis.cfm##10keyfacts

by jfoster 2007-01-31 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Card Check and UofM janitors

I think that's a great bill but is it close to passing? You need 60 votes in the Senate and I don't think it's even close to that at this point.

Here's the AFL-CIO Fact Sheet on Card Check as part of the legislation
http://www.aflcio.org/joinaunion/voiceat work/efca/upload/Sign-Up_Q&A.pdf

My question is if changing the threshold from 50% to 60% was good practice in Miami why isn't it a good idea nationally? The idea is to get a system in place that makes union organizing easier, not hold out indefinetly in Congress for the perfect bill.

The Miami janitors voted had over 70% sign cards so it's not like the 60% threshold is out of reach. It's a not as though 60% is an unprecendented threshold - it's the same threshold that is used in the US Senate.

by joejoejoe 2007-01-31 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Card Check and UofM janitors

Changing the thresshold from 50 to 60% is typically associated with an agreement of neutrality from management, as was the case for the Janitors in Miami. The neutrality agreement also contains language that prohibits punishment for workers involved in the union organizing committee and also typically prohibits captive audience anti-union lectures by management. But again, this is solely based upon an agreement from management. Not all companies will agree to this and they are only legally obligated to conform to the rules set forth by the NLRA.

What the Employee Free Choice Act proposes is a nationwide system for bargaining that includes all the good aspects of neutrality agreements and especially specific language that protects activist workers. That is why our friends in Congress should give priority to passing EFCA, not only to show their appreciation to the trade union movement for all they did to achieve a Democratic majority, but for the benefit and protection of working Americans.

John Foster
GCC/IBT Local 4C

by jfoster 2007-01-31 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Card Check and UofM janitors

"Changing the thresshold from 50 to 60% is typically associated with an agreement of neutrality from management, as was the case for the Janitors in Miami."

Couldn't a guarantee of management neutrality be written into the Employee Free Choice Act as part of the change from 50% to 60%? I'm in agreement with all of the goals of EFCA and I'm only belaboring the point because I want to see it passed in Congress, not blocked by the GOP minority.

The parallel between the 60% 'card check' threshold and the 60 vote cloture requirement might persuade enough GOP Senators to support the bill to achieve passage.

To play Devil's Advocate - an election that achieves 50%+1 might be binding but coexisting under that circumstance is often very adverserial. A union that achieves recognition at the 60% threshold might persuade less than friendly managements to negotiate in good faith, while a 50% threshold might only serve to push managment into all kinds of shenanagins to change the equation to 50% minus 1 and decertify.

by joejoejoe 2007-01-31 09:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Card Check and UofM janitors

I'm not sure that a 60% standard would convice pro-business Republicans to support a workers right to join a union, however; if that was the only thing preventing passage of the bill, I'm all for it, and I tell you why. From experience, I know that a union won't ever petition for recongition unless it does have cards signed by a minimum of 60% of the employees who are employeed by a company.

Neutrality is, in fact, a part of the EFCA, in that there is specific language prohibiting management from punishing activist workers, or interfering with the union's right to organize.

by jfoster 2007-01-31 11:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Card Check and UofM janitors

I think the 60% threshold also would help win the PR fight. I see GOP talking heads all the time talking about somebody being coerced into joining a union.

By setting the initial terms as more than fair to the employer the common countercharges leveled against unions (pressure and strong arm tactics by union leaders - however false) are taken off the table.

If fairness and genorous good faith negotiating become associated with unions because of the 60% concession it becomes much harder for management to use smear tactics against workers.

I think trading off that 10% for a host of secondary benefits is well worth the trouble.

by joejoejoe 2007-01-31 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Card Check and UofM janitors

I agree, I just don't think that the results you anticipate are a sure thing. Than again, maybe the concept of majority rule, as applied to working peoples' right to organize should be based upon a 75% rule. You know what, I still don't think the anti-labor, right-wing, corporate Republicans would be willing to go for it.

Let's bring up the bill the way it is. Whichever Republicans vote against it, we target in the next elections and run them out of office!

John Foster
GCC/IBT Local 4C

by jfoster 2007-01-31 12:50PM | 0 recs
Universal Health Care

Will the SEIU come out for a single-payer system (i.e. Medicare for all) rather than a car insurance health care plan like CA or MA?

If not, why not?

by adamterando 2007-01-31 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Universal Health Care

I can answer that one.  Their State Council in CA and locals are willing to endorse a plan that is not single payer.  SEIU has a set of principles that any legislative plan must live up to in order to get their support and they do not necessarily add up to single payer, though that is the holy grail.  Single payer may way find its way to the ballot if nothing gets done legislatively this year.

by juls 2007-01-31 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Universal Health Care

Right, but I want to hear from Stern that he does not support MA types of plans that do nothing but shift the burden onto the individual and are a big give-away to insurance companies.

by adamterando 2007-01-31 08:32AM | 0 recs
SEIU statement...
...of January 3 offers The Health Care Solution: SEIU's Vision for Reform -
Ten fundamental principles that will guide SEIU's work to promote health care solutions that move a new American health care system in the right direction.

Whatever it is, it's not a commitment to single payer.
by skeptic06 2007-01-31 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

What, if anything, is SEIU doing to promote unionization in the South? I live in NC and I would love to see more of them around here.

by Spiffarino 2007-01-31 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions
The Employee Free Choice Act, how close is it to being able to pass?
by jallen 2007-01-31 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

At this point the EFCA has absolutely no chance in hell of passing, because; so far the Dems haven't had the time or inclination to bring the bill up.

I'm wondering when the Dems are going to show their appreciation to organized labor for all the time, money, people, energy, and facilities that were provided for the 2006 victories.

John Foster
GCC/IBT Local 4C

by jfoster 2007-01-31 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

The EFCA has no chance of passing not because the Democrats are unwilling to bring it but because it has absolutely no chance of getting the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Plus, President Bush is more likely to pull our troops out of Iraq than sign EFCA into law.

by zahke 2007-01-31 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

How do you, Mr. Stern, reconcile the push for single payer or other major government support for health care initiatives on the one hand, while standing up for your organized and to-be-organized health care workers in 1199 and elsewhere?  Specifically, are you concerned about wage depression for such workers once the market for hospital nurses, etc., approaches effective monopsony (one ultimate buyer)?

by Bruce Godfrey 2007-01-31 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

Where does the repeal of Taft-Hartley stand on the SEIU and CtW agendas?

by Ramo 2007-01-31 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Ask Andy Stern Policy Questions

When are they going to organize the bloggers? While there might not be a tangible management system affecting people who blog, there are certainly a lot of services provided by top bloggers as consultants in the media, political and PR sectors. Very similar to the SAG in some respects, with short term contracts coming up for renewal all the time.

M

by techsoldaten 2007-01-31 09:38AM | 0 recs

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