How union leader Andy Stern has harmed the labor movement.

The conventional wisdom debunked.
July 27 2005 2:59 PM

A More Perfect Union?

Why Andy Stern isn't helping the American labor movement.

(Continued from Page 1)

The New York Times heralded the electoral layup as the greatest union feat since the 1937 Flint sit-down strikes that forced General Motors to recognize the United Auto Workers. Organizing the home-care industry may never allow Stern to control the commanding heights of the U.S. economy the way UAW's Walter Reuther did in the '50s. But with baby-boom retirements, the home-care field may soon employ more workers than auto ever did. Meanwhile, the election produced for SEIU what is now very likely the largest local in America, with 115,000 members and nearly $30 million in yearly cash flow. Stern's Los Angeles Local 434B is now bigger than the entire United Mine Workers—once America's largest union. The problem is they have very little to show for their dues.

Stern has become an inviting target for other unions. His great rival is Gerald McEntee, the president of AFSCME, who's staying with Sweeney. McEntee claims his union should represent Stern's home-care and day-care workers, too. The two have clashed repeatedly in bitter turf battles in Illinois, Iowa, and California. (At the March AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting in Las Vegas, they charged each other with raiding. According to Jonathan Tasini, the former president of the National Writers Union, McEntee called Stern a "hypocrite," and Stern dubbed McEntee a "motherfucker.")


Stern's departure from the AFL-CIO probably mortally wounded it. But it was dying, with or without SEIU. In essence, the American labor movement has now split into two failing models. Old-line, high-wage unions don't have room to grow, while Stern's new low-skill service unions have plenty of room to grow but little power to help their members.

Correction, July 28, 2005: An earlier version of this article called Bread and Roses a "Hollywood" movie. In fact it was produced and funded almost entirely by non-American film companies. Return to the corrected sentence.



The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.


Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?