Administration keeping cozy with union bosses

President Barack Obama has appointed Service Employees International Union President Andrew Stern to a new commission tasked with coming up with recommendations to help reduce the federal deficit. While disappointing, this is not surprising. Stern’s appointment is merely the culmination of a series of appointments by the Obama administration of individuals closely associated with SEIU to government posts.

These include Patrick Gaspard, a former vice president for politics and legislation for SEIU Local 1199, a giant New York health care workers union, who was named White House political director following Obama’s election, and SEIU Treasurer Anna Burger, who was named to Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Then there’s former SEIU associate general counsel Craig Becker, whose nomination to the National Labor Relations Board failed in a Senate cloture vote.

Stern himself, according to White House visitor logs released in November, visited the White House at least 22 times in 2009, making him the most frequent visitor during that time (the Alliance for Worker Freedom has filed a request for an investigation of Stern for possible lobbying disclosure violations, including during those visits).

This access hasn’t come easy. SEIU has invested heavily in politics. In 2008, it was the seventh biggest campaign donor, with nearly all of its contributions going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Stern told The Las Vegas Sun in May 2009: “We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama—$60.7 million to be exact—and we’re proud of it.”

Coziness between the administration and a special interest aside, asking the head of a union that organizes public-sector workers presents a clear conflict of interest, especially now that union members in the public sector outnumber their private-sector counterparts for the first time ever.  Would Stern be willing to reduce growth of the sector where his union is most likely to find new members? More likely are calls for higher taxes to fund more “public services” for SEIU to unionize. That also shouldn’t be surprising. Today, government employee unions constitute a permanent special interest lobby favoring the growth of government, one that is motivated, organized and well-funded.

Ivan G. Osorio is editorial director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. His writings focus on labor issues and the new economy.

  • sunnyr

    Communist punk!!

  • monkeybird

    It disgusts me that a group of purple shirted THUGS are even allowed in the White House. Labor unions are one of the reasons the U.S. has lost so much of it manufacturing industry. SEIU want to bankrupt the Country with their special deals. Disgusting Thugs!

  • javsnyc

    In his budget, Paterson proposed a number of new taxes, the closure of facilities and other measures to suit a political agenda. With the end of his tenure well within sight, what is to come of these initiatives and the outside agencies that support them?

    It is hard to believe that the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) 1199 will simply allow the two million dollars investment in the soda tax simply fall to the wayside. We know whom the SEIU had in their pocket. And how that black-handed, double-dealing agent worked out for them.

    So who will be the new face of the SEIU’s regressive policy for New York? What politician would be willing to back a union in their money grab from hardworking middle and lower classes of New York?

    SEIU should take care of involving itself in politics. Back in 2003, the SEIU chastised AFL-CIO for being overly involved elections. Now in 2010, it is hypocritical that they should be involved in a campaign to burden New Yorkers with a new tax. The SEIU is backing a tax on the middle and lower class, the very same janitors, elevator operators and window washers who formed the union back in 1921.