In a Washington Post article/interview, columnist Ezra Klein interviews Andy Stern, former head of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). I’ve heard a number of things he has said in the past that did nothing to pull me over to the pro-union side. However, in the interview, he mentions a number of things that would actually think twice about my stance if they were status quo in America. the article can be read here but here are a few quotes that jumped out at me.
On a “collaborative process:”
We have this anti-employer, they’re going to kill us we need to kill them first, mentality. We’ve done a very bad job, for instance, making alliances with small businesses.
We need an ideology based around working with employers to build skills in our workers, to train them for success. That message and approach can attract different people than the “we need to stand up for the working class!” approach. That approach is about conflict, and a lot of people don’t want more conflict.
On working together with employers:
We’ve never, as a union movement, promoted partnerships with employers where we talk about how to share in success and in skills and training. You say those things in the labor movement and they go over well with workers and employers and badly with activists. To the activists, this is sell-out language.
On the Democrat Party and unions:
The forces that don’t like unions there have largely finished with us. And now they’re moving to the public sector. But part of this story is that the Democratic Party hasn’t embraced unions in the last 20 years. Republicans understood unions as an ally of the Democratic Party. But unions couldn’t get Democrats to embrace unions as a response. They made the argument that making more union members was how you make more Democrats, and that argument is true, but they couldn’t get the Democratic Party to really embrace that theory.
The rest of the interview and the questions asked can be read here: “Andy Stern: ‘It may not end beautifully in Wisconsin.'”