Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern is not known for being shy about his ambitions. Since taking his union out of the AFL-CIO and forming the new Change to Win federation in 2005, he has sought to assert his union’s influence over private equity firms, centralize his authority within the union by forcing various locals to merge, and negotiate large deals with employers without member participation. Now, however, it is worth asking who is really in charge at SEIU.
Amidst all this power grabbing, things seem to have gone awry. The arrest this morning of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris, for allegedly seeking to essentially sell the appointment to the Senate seat about to be vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, involves a tangled web of conversations between Blagojevich and other politicians and SEIU officials. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that on November 7:
[I]in a three-way call with Harris and Advisor B, a consultant in Washington, Blagojevich and the others allegedly discussed the prospect of a three-way deal for the Senate appointment involving an organization called “Change to Win,” which is affiliated with various unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).