SEIU's Manifesto? Stephen Lerner Doubles Down on Crippling America's Economic System

Last week, The Blaze posted two audio recordings of Stephen Lerner, an SEIU boss who was lecturing an audience on how to bring down the American economy. While Lerner had reportedly been fired from the SEIU last year, it turns out that that may not have been the case.


During the audio, Lerner was introduced as being “of SEIU.” Moreover, former ACORN founder, Chief Organizer of ACORN, and all-around community organizing SEIU offical, Wade Rathke stated Friday on his blog:

Lerner has not been “fired” by SEIU as they report.  He was placed on paid leave last fall to think through his contribution to the union, but was certainly present at the recent international executive board meeting.  He’s in a curious position no doubt, but it’s something like being an “injured reserve” in the NFL and waiting for the team to find a place to bring him back on the roster.

Then, just to affirm that Lerner is still affiliated with the SEIU is Lerner’s bio on a piece posted this afternoon which reads:

Stephen Lerner serves on the Service Employees International Union’s International Executive Board and is the architect of the Justice for Janitors campaign. Lerner is a frequent contributor on national television and radio programs and has published numerous articles charting a path for a 21st-century labor movement.

More information about Stephen Lerner

So, why is this important?

Because, as an official still with the SEIU, Steven Lerner did something that most people caught in advocating the bringing down of the American economy would not do…Stephen Lerner doubled down.

In an on line piece posted by Lerner entitled This Can Be Our Moment, Lerner further elaborates on his plan to ‘transform’ America’s economy. After railing against the Left’s usual boogeymen (Wall St., the Koch Brothers, greedy CEOs, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Glenn Beck “and others”), Lerner pitches into his vision of the future.


Though Lerner did not name an individual company to target as he did last week (JP Morgan), his broad vision calls for the following:

  • Using political and economic power to ‘renegotiate’ with Wall Street and raise revenue for cities and states
  • Getting governments to refuse to do business with banks that ‘refuse to pay their fair share’
  • Getting homeowners and students to engage in a ‘loan’ strike (refusing to pay their loans)
  • Calling on government-sector union members to vote to strike
  • Using the private-sector union movement to politicize and transform narrow bargaining “into a vehicle to make unions relevant again”

First, Lerner paints with a broad brush:

It doesn’t have to be this way. This can be our moment. The fragility of an unstable boom-and-bust economy and growing economic inequality create unique opportunities to stoke simmering discontent into concrete, concerted direct action to challenge corporate extremism. From Wisconsin, where hundreds of thousands of workers, students, clergy and others have rallied, to cities around the country where average Americans are occupying Wall Street banks to protest revenue shortfalls, the poisonous deals banks have with cities and states, and foreclosures, a movement is being born that challenges corporate dominance and is inspired by a vision of a better and more just world.


Then Lerner dives in (in full context, with emphasis added):

But in order to make this vision reality, we need to go on offense and make Wall Street pay for the trillions it stole from us. Wall Street is bankrupting cities, states, homeowners, and students with trillions in unfair debt, even after the big banks received $17 trillion in bailouts and backstops after crashing the economy. We can use our political and economic power to renegotiate our relationship with Wall Street to keep millions of people in their homes, and raise revenue for cities and states to protect jobs and critical services:

Here’s how Lerner proposes to do it…

The Potential Power of Government—Don’t Do Business with Bandit Banks: Wall Street does trillions in business with all levels of government. Let’s leverage that money by getting governments to refuse to do business with banks that don’t pay their fair share in taxes, won’t renegotiate high-cost deals that are bankrupting taxpayers with astronomical interest rates, and refuse to stop foreclosures by reducing mortgage principals.

The Potential Power of Homeowners and Students—Don’t Pay Unfair Debt: Growing numbers of homeowners and students cannot afford to pay back their loans. If they organized a loan strike — refusing to pay their mortgages and student loans unless banks agreed to negotiate lower rates — it would threaten CEO bonuses and bottom lines of the banks. When corporations are in trouble they renegotiate their debt all the time so they can get on their feet again. Homeowners, students and local government need that same deal.

The Potential Power of Public Employee Unions—Bargaining to Protect Public Dollars: Public employee unions so far have been on the defensive, trying to stop cuts and concessions. Nurses, teachers, firefighters and others can go on the offensive by putting concrete proposals on the table that would save billions like demanding governments get out of the toxic interest rate swaps that are costing taxpayers at least $1.8 billion a year nationally, or making California renegotiate old loans to conform to the new law on universal credit ratings, which would save $21 billion. Imagine teachers, nurses, firefighters and police voting to strike in order to make the city or state use its power to protect taxpayers and public services while helping to stop foreclosures and stabilize the housing market and tax base.

The Potential Power of Private-Sector Unions—Bargaining for the Greater Good: Collective bargaining can’t only be about improving wages and grievance procedures for union members — it must become a tool for fixing broken industries, creating jobs and revitalizing communities, creating economic opportunity, and altering business practices that exploit communities and pollute the environment. Historically, unions have narrowed what we fight for in moments of weakness. But unions, collective bargaining, and organizing make less and less sense the more we narrow the scope of what we are trying to achieve. By expanding what we’re mobilizing for, unions can politicize and transform narrow bargaining into a vehicle to make unions relevant again and rebuild the middle class.


Though it is certainly debatable whether or not Lerner’s plan could be pulled off, Lerner should not be discounted either. After all, Lerner’s former boss brought you ObamaCare.


“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776


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