Thursday, April 28, 2011

Does his birth certificate read “Ozymandias"?

Who is the real Andy Stern? He retired just as he was about to join with hedge fund managers and other cooperating managers of big capital in an inspiring campaign to rescue the labor movement. At the time, he said he was retiring to make room for a younger generation to carry on. But the colossal wreck of his legacy seems to be crumbling in the lone and level sands. That younger generation rejected his choice as successor to the SEIU presidency. Change to Win, the institution he created to rival the AFL-CIO, is crumbling. And now, the man he chose to stand right beside him in the crusade is has fallen, Bruce Raynor.

Raynor turned into an important power in the Stern entourage. He had been president of UNITE, the once powerful clothing union and became president of UNITE/HERE when it merged with the Hotel union. He transferred it out of the AFL-CIO into Stern's Change to Win. But when Raynor was defeated in a bitter factional battle and lost the UNITE/HERE presidency, Stern stood behind him and brought Raynor, along with 100,000 members, into the SEIU where he was immediately elevated into one of the highest SEIU posts: international executive vice president.

But now, with Stern gone, the SEIU leaders have pushed out Raynor, Stern’s close associate.

Raynor resigned to avoid trial on charges that are bound to mystify any normal observer. For one thing: he was accused of improperly spending a total of $2,300 on ten dinners which he says were actually concerned with legitimate union business. That's an average of $230 each. And so here's a man who was a bank president at the time, president of a 100,000-member unit of SEIU, and surely recipient of a generous salary as executive vice president. Did he really phony up a few $230 expenses? And with all those millions sloshing around in the SEIU in these perilous times, how did they happen to run across these alleged peccadillos?

In a related aspect of the same charges, he was accused of falsifying he records by eliminating the name of the female SEIU union officer who dined with him and substituting the name of a male colleague. So what? As a possible sex scandal, it is not so hot. His explanation seems as boring as it is simple. He says that she is embroiled in a dispute in Canada with UNITE/HERE, and Raynor feared retaliation against her in the SEIU if it became known that she was conferring with him.

That younger generation to whom Stern bequeathed his legacy? They look upon his works and reject another of his chosen continuators.

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