WaPo: "an awkward moment for SEIU"

When Alec MacGillis of the Washington Post noted last Wednesday that this is "an awkward moment for the SEIU," he alerted readers to a reality those following the labor movement have recognized for some time.

Andy Stern, President of SEIU, viewed as "a possible savior of labor" per MacGillis, has led SEIU into a pattern of activity that calls into question whether SEIU's leaders really believe in the principles they claim to stand for.

The simplest way to understand the gap between SEIU's words and its actions is to understand that, for Andy Stern, the consolidation of power has consistently trumped principle. While supporting Stern and SEIU once seemed like 'one stop shopping' for progressives looking to support workers, that support increasingly comes at the price of turning a blind eye to a troubling pattern of hypocrisy.

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NUHW: a defining moment

In my previous posts, United Healthcare Workers Holding our Ground and We are the Union. SEIU who are you? I shared my experience of the trusteeship SEIU International imposed on SEIU-UHW and the birth of our new union, NUHW. What I'd like to do today is share with you why this experience has been a defining moment for me and my sisters and brothers building NUHW...

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NUHW: Let us vote!

In the five weeks since SEIU International trusteed California's SEIU-UHW West something enormous has transpired: California's healthcare workers have spoken.

What those workers have said is crystal clear: We choose NUHW.

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Weekly Pulse: Why the Stem Cell Reversal Is Not a Total Victory

By Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC MediaWire Blogger

This week, President Obama made headlines by reversing George W. Bush's executive order barring researchers who receive federal funds from researching all but a handful of stem cell lines created before 2001.

"Promoting science isn't just about providing resources, it is also about protecting free and open inquiry," Obama wrote. "It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient especially when it's inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology."

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Tell me more about the Accountability Now PAC

The Accountability Now PAC announced its arrival today:

"We need members of Congress to leave the bubble of Washington, D.C. and stand with their constituents," said Jane Hamsher, founder of Firedoglake.com and co-founder of Accountability Now. "We need members of Congress to ask the tough questions about continued Wall Street bailouts that reward the donor class, two wars without seeming end, the ceaseless assault on our civil liberties, and other issues that separate the citizenry from the DC cocoon."

"Accountability Now is an organization built around a single guiding principle: challenging the institutional power structures that make it so easy, so consequence-free for Congress to open up the government coffers for looting by corporate America while people across the country are losing their jobs and their basic constitutional rights while unable to afford basic health care," said Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com and co-founder of Accountability Now. "Accountability Now believes that members of Congress in both parties need to hear from their constituents, and that nothing focuses the mind of a politician on listening to citizens better than a primary."

"Accountability Now PAC will recruit, coordinate, and support primary challenges against vulnerable Congressional incumbents who have become more responsive to corporate America than to their constituents," said Accountability Now's new Executive Director, Jeff Hauser. "By empowering the grassroots, Accountability Now will help create the political space needed to enable President Obama to make good on the many progressive policies he campaigned on - such as getting out of Iraq, ensuring access to affordable health care for every man, woman and child, restoring our constitutional liberties and ending torture."

In 2007, grassroots activists banded together to oust Al Wynn out of office, and it shook House Democrats to their core. Similarly, we learned in 2006 how even a primary challenge that does not win could change behavior, as Jane Harman has been more accountable to the concerns of her constituents after a tough primary race against Marcy Winograd.

Out of these recent lessons, diverse and politically powerful groups have decided to support Accountability Now's efforts, such as MoveOn, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), DailyKos, ColorOfChange.org, and Democracy for America, 21st Century Democrats and BlogPAC.

On principle, I agree with the goals of this PAC. Like some guy once said, "the system in Washington is rigged and our government is broken. It's rigged by greedy corporate powers to protect corporate profits. [...] We cannot replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats [...]"

However, I won't get excited about the Accountability Now PAC until I learn more about the criteria it will use to determine which Democratic incumbents are "bad enough" to be primaried, and which primary challengers are "good enough" to be endorsed.

To my knowledge, Democracy for America was the only organization in the Accountability Now PAC that helped Ed Fallon in last year's primary in Iowa's third district (a D+1 district represented by Blue Dog Leonard Boswell).

How would someone thinking about a primary challenge know whether he or she is likely to get full support, like Donna Edwards in MD-04, or almost nothing, like Fallon?

Speaking of Democracy for America, they have announced the 2009 schedule for their acclaimed two-day training academy. I've never attended one of these, but I have heard great things about the program. My fellow Iowa blogger noneed4thneed has signed up for this weekend's DFA academy in Des Moines.

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