Saturday, October 08, 2005

Andy Stern speaks to university staff employees union

Andy Stern "gets it!"

Andrew Stern at GC 2005

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) president Andy Stern spoke with university employees Friday evening on the eve of the California State Employees Association's 63rd General Council. Stern gave a rousing come to Jesus speech about the importance of the labor movement. Then he stepped from behind the lectern. Stern listened as well as talked and the result was a very lively conversation. Stern, as head of SEIU, recently led a group of formerly AFL-CIO unions out of the AFL-CIO to form a new organization named Change-to-Win.

In his Friday talk Stern, whose SEIU is growing in union membership, spoke about why it was necessary for SEIU to leave the AFL-CIO. He answered the concerns of folks, like myself, who do not like to see the house of labor divided. He cited declining membership in the labor movement overall and the seeming unwillingness of the AFL-CIO to change its strategy to meet the demands of a changing world.

What really impressed me about Stern is that, he gets it! He referenced Freedman, who's book The World is Flat I am currently reading.  He spoke about globalization and the role of unions in a changing global economy. I was able to ask Stern a couple of questions about globalization and the public perception of the labor movement. Stern answered my questions. He spoke about global organizing to meet global markets, unions embracing emerging technology and how unions need to be reorganized to effectively organize workers globally. In short, I was very impressed!

Fiscal issues in CSEA
The California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) is one of four organizations in the California State Employees Association (CSEA). Kathryn Plunkett is on the statewide CSEA fiscal committee. Last night, after Stern left, she spoke to us about the ongoing struggle within the statewide organization over central support issues. Central Support is the CSEA entity that provides support services and coordinates activities involving all the four affiliated CSEA organizations. There is a big conflict within the CSEA affiliates about how strong and well funded Central Support should be. Kathryn is a long time close friend of mine. I spent a lot of time in Friday's fiscal committee meeting. It was a long day for Kathryn and a hard day as she and her allies were almost constantly being out voted on issues that are core for university employees.

Kathryn speaking to university employees

The meeting of university employees Friday night went to about 10pm. After the meeting we went to a hospitality suite where we discussed the day's events until the early morning hours of the next day. I had a great long discussion with CSUEU Chapter 307 president Jeff Baldwin. I like Jeff a lot and really enjoyed our conversation. Today, at 1pm, the 63rd General Council Convenes.

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Blogger pngantt9 said...

Andy Stern spoke with the CSUEU, SEIU Local 2579 delegation for 45 minutes. This marks the first time that an SEIU International officer has ever addressed a group of SEIU Local 2579 members. Stern answered a variety of questions related to the current labor movement. He came away with a better understanding of who Local 2579 represented and what they care about. As staff employees within the CSU system, SEIU Local 2579 members have a unique niche working in support of and with the 400,000 students. Those students are the workforce of tomorrow and the voters today. The presence of a visable and progressive labor movement on the college campuses of California can only help frame the future of Labor in the U.S., and with SEIU's help, the world.

5:24 PM  

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