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Change Leader

President of fastest-growing union visiting ILR in March

Andy Stern, president of North America's largest union and an outspoken proponent of a new national health care system, will be ILR's Alice B. Grant Labor Leader in Residence March 2 and 3.

He will speak on "The Third Economic Revolution" at 4:30 p.m. March 3 in 105 Ives Hall. The talk is free and open to the public.

During Stern's 14 years as president of the Service Employees International Union, child care and hospital workers, janitors, home care providers and others have negotiated contracts for livable wages, improved health care, paid leave and job training.

ILR Professor of Labor Studies Richard Hurd describes Stern as "... certainly the most controversial union leader in the United States and, arguably, the most successful."

"He led the exodus of seven major unions from the AFL-CIO in 2005 and formed a competing federation, Change to Win. Although his methods are controversial, few deny that his search for new models of unionism has produced results," Hurd said.

Service Employees International Union membership has nearly doubled to two million under Stern, a driving force in labor's support of Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

In that race, 13,000 Service Employees International Union members and staffers worked to elect President Obama and pro-labor candidates.

It was the largest mobilization by any single organization in the history of United States politics, according to the union.

The New York Times in October described Stern as "Mr. Obama's top ally in the labor movement."

Stern graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and began his union career in 1973 as a Pennsylvania social service worker.

More information about Stern's ILR visit, which will include class visits and meetings with students and faculty, is available through Hurd at rwh8@cornell.edu.

ILR's Labor Leader in Residence program is named after Alice Grant, a founder of ILR's Extension division and a leader of the school's early efforts to build an outreach and educational program for trade unionists.

Former Alice B. Grant Labor Leaders in Residence include presidents of the AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America, the United Automobile Workers, and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers.