- This Week
10.18.06 - 3:08 pm | Steven T. Jones |
By Steven T. Jones
Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern was in San Francisco today to help christen SEIU Local 790's new digs on Potrero Hill -- and to give fiery voice to the prescription for national political reform that he outlines in his new book "A Country That Works: Getting America Back on Track" (all proceeds from which go to SEIU's political struggles, so go buy one).
He also dropped a bit of a bombshell on the capacity crowd (which included such notables as Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly, Sophie Maxwell, Dennis Herrera, Phil Ting, and Bob Twomey): 790 head Josie Mooney will be leaving town to work directly for Stern. "I'm so sorry you're losing her, but it's a gain for SEIU," he said to a smattering of gasps. Actually, Mooney tells the Guardian that her departure has been in the works for awhile, but that she plans to stick around for at least a couple more months.
It will be a loss for SF, but to hear Stern outline his vision, Mooney could be a part of something with the potential to rescue the country from self-destruction.
"This is not our father's or grandfather's economy. So we need to think about building our 21st century economy differently," Stern said. Yet the country has done little to deal with new global economic realities that threaten working class Americans. "We have no plan. China has a plan. India has a plan."
Because of rapid technological and economic changes, private companies are no longer seeing to the general welfare as they once did when Americans would spend their entire careers working for one company.
"Employees and employers are getting a divorce," he said, yet political leaders have failed to recognize the change and fill the vacuum with things like socialized medicine and guaranteed pensions. The income gap is growing and people are becoming more anxious.
"America is growing apart, not coming together," he said. "America's problem is not that we don't have the wealth, it's that we don't share in the wealth."