Stern, Andrew L.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Stern, Andrew L.

Andrew L. Stern, 1950–, American labor leader, b. West Orange, N.J., grad., Univ. of Pennsylvania (B.A., 1971). A charismatic and frequently controversial reformer, he became a significant figure in the labor union movement. As a Pennsylvania state social worker he joined (1973) the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), became a field organizer, the president of his local, and a member of SEIU's executive board (1980). In 1996 he succeeded John J. Sweeney as union president. Stern earned a reputation as a new kind of union boss, building the various SEIU locals into a more cohesive national union, analyzing labor problems from a global perspective, and advocating a less confrontational approach to management in attaining worker benefits, but his methods also provoked opposition from some locals in the SEIU. He was also the leader of a reform movement within the AFL-CIO, but after failing to achieve the desired changes he led the SEIU out of the federation and with several other union leaders founded (2005) the Change to Win Federation. He stepped down as SEIU president in 2010 and was replaced by Mary Kay Henry, the union's first female leader.

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