The War of the SEIU Succession Is Over, or Is It?

The battle over who would succeed outgoing Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern (picture above, next to President Obama) appears to be over, as several key locals lined up to support challenger Mary Kay Henry against Stern’s handpicked successor, Anna Burger, who served as Secretary-Treasurer during Stern’s presidency. The story got largely buried because it broke at the start of a weekend, but Liberty Chick, at, has some useful background on Henry.

Mary Kay Henry’s history with SEIU began in 1979, as she rose through the ranks and became a leader and chief healthcare strategist, then was elected to the International Executive Board in 1996.  Today, Henry serves as International Executive Vice President of SEIU, a step beneath Anna Burger.  Henry’s efforts have been very focused in the health care sector and on building labor coalitions and partnerships with hospitals and health care facilities.  That said, we can probably expect to see SEIU’s stronghold on this sector continue to grow stronger.

In addition to her posts at SEIU, Mary Kay Henry has also been a labor adviser to and member of the Subcommittee on Catholic Health Care of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, an organization that in itself has become a major political force, having brokered deals with the likes of Nancy Pelosifor crucial votes in the eleventh hour of major bills, most notably on health care reform.  Additionally, she is a member of the executive board of Families USA, a left-leaning non-profit group that serves as a think-tank for most of SEIU’s and other progressive organizations’ research and reports to support universal health care.

In other words, we should expect a change in style — mainly in not antagonizing other labor leaders as much as the Stern-Burger duo did — rather than substance.

For more on Stern and SEIU, see here, here, and here.

UPDATE: Outgoing SEIU boss Andy Stern isn’t giving up the fight for Anna Burger to replace him; he said today that the selection of his successor is not over. However, the Huffington Post reports that, “Aides at SEIU didn’t dispute that Henry, owing to support of local affiliates in New York, Los Angeles, Oregon, and Washington State finds herself in a strong position to take over for Stern.”