Why Are Andy Stern and Anna Burger of the SEIU Partisan To China’s ACFTU (Ties To Chinese Communist Party)?


Chinese law does not recognize the right of workers to organize and form trade unions outside the state-affiliated All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), and this in turn exacerbates the exploitation of migrant construction workers in Beijing.  The Trade Union Law of the People’s Republic of China explicitly links the role of the AFCTU to government policies directed at “the development of China’s socialist modernization.”180 The ACFTU’s chairman, Wang Zhaoguo, is also vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress.181

[Chinese] workers have the right to join and organize unions, but must be part of the sole nationwide labor union, the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) which must support the Communist Party. China’s labor laws do not clearly specify that workers have to represent workers in the collective bargaining process, and under China’s constitution workers do not have the legal right to strike.182

The Trade Union Law’s prohibition of any labor union activity outside the ACFTU has been criticized by international labor organizations as an unfair limitation on workers’ right to organize. The International Labor Organization describes the ACFTU’s role as sole trade union in China as “a system of trade union monopoly [which] limits the right of workers to form and join organizations of their own choice.”183 



Looking for the Quick Fix: Reviewing Andy Stern – by Dan Gallin (2008)

Andy Stern, president of the second-largest union in the United States, the Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU), published a book in October last year (2) in which he presents himself and his views to the American public. Partly autobiographical, partly programmatic, the book was written “to help galvanize the forces for change”.

The China Opening

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal (3) started with the paragraph: “As China imprisoned dozens of dissident labor activists after massive workers’ demonstrations in 2002, an American labor leader decided it was time to embrace China’s government-backed unions.”

Andy Stern counts the opening up of relations with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) in 2002 as one of his major achievements. He was persuaded to begin building relation with the ACFTU by Chinese American and other U.S. labor activists who argued that the Chinese trade unions are legitimate workers organizations and that the American labor movement should begin to open a dialogue and cultivate relationships with them. (4) Last May Stern visited the ACFTU for the sixth time, leading a delegation of the Change to Win (CtW) coalition of U.S. unions which disaffiliated with the AFL-CIO in July 2005. Stern has also hosted ACFTU delegations to the United States and recently the Los Angeles Federation of Labor signed a co-operation agreement with the Shanghai Trade Union Council, the local ACFTU branch, the “first formal relationship between a U.S. central labor council and their equivalent in China”, according to the LACFL press release. It “pledges co-operation, regular exchange of labor leader delegations, and joint work on research and organizing, especially in addressing multinational corporations operating in both cities.”

These are important political developments not just for the U.S. labor movement but for the entire global independent trade union movement.. While he may not be the political brain behind them, Andy Stern is their leading public advocate.

The AFL-CIO of course does not recognize the ACFTU as a legitimate trade union organization. In 2002, when the South China Morning Post reported Andy Stern’s visit, an AFL-CIO spokesperson issued a statement that the delegation in no way represented the AFL-CIO: “the AFL-CIO shares the view of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions … that the ACFTU is not an independent trade union but rather part of the Chinese government and party structure.”

His description of his first visit to China gives no obvious answer. He sounds like a naïve tourist, awed by having been met at the airport by the head of the ACFTU International Department, and “whisked” into the diplomatic lounge. Then Stern and his delegation were received, to his “shock”, in the Great Hall of the People: “with much ceremony we were guided into the splendor of the Great Hall formal reception room and treated with the formality of visiting diplomats. As the highest-ranking union leader in the delegation, I was guided to a lavishly carved, formal chair opposite the president of the ACFTU, Wei Jianxing.”

He goes on to explain: “Mr. Wei was China’s highest-ranking labor leader, assigned by the Communist Party. More important, he served as one of eight powerful members of the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s highest governing body. Mr. Wei wielded enormous power over all the affairs of China, and his importance surpassed that of any union leader I had previously met.” (9)

A far cry indeed from Stern’s previous international labor travel, with “uneventful, private dinners with the host country’s union officials” (10). none of them, to be sure, wielding the “enormous power” that membership in the highest governing body of a one-party police state brings with it.

Here is how the ACFTU leadership milked the publicity opportunity of Stern’s 2002 visit, in Stern’s own words: after Wei “grandly welcomed” the delegation with a short speech and Stern spoke in reply, “Mr. Wei made a slight motion with his hand and, in what had obviously been prearranged, summoned the Chinese press corps. Several dozen reporters and photographers appeared and began taking notes, shooting pictures and video footage, and I later learned that our introductory remarks had been recorded, translated and broadcast to the press room.”

Stern goes on to write, apparently oblivious to the real significance of the public relations theater in which he is the star performer: “For the Chinese, the photograph of an American labor leader’s ‘historic’ arrival was worth a thousand words, and those pictures would soon appear in the China Daily News, in Russia’s Tass, and, back home, in Business Week.” (12)


Global Unions

Stern is developing a different agenda. It comes through most clearly in his interview in The McKinsey Quarterly last year (49). The interviewer asks where the movement is going, and Stern replies: “what we’re going to see happen in the next ten years, if not sooner, is a convergence of a global labor movement, a global corporate responsibility movement, and nongovernmental organizations. … We need to build new organizations that can help people, and on the global level that will require joint efforts by unions, NGOs and corporate responsibility groups.”

What if the employers are not convinced? Stern has figured out an international strike strategy that is cost-effective: “If workers are ready to go on strike in the United States, and we are ready to pay them to strike, it would be very costly. But paying workers in Indonesia or India or other places to go on strike against the same global employer isn’t particularly expensive.”

The interviewer, who probably cannot believe what he is hearing, insists: “So a global federation or union might decide, in effect, to outsource a strike to the lowest-cost area because the amount needed for the strike fund would be lower, and thus put pressure on one wing of a global employers’ operations?”

Stern’s reply: “Yes, absolutely.”

This is extraordinary. In the past, when a strike was “outsourced”, it was the other way around: strong unions would put pressure on transnational corporations, including through industrial action, to defend weaker unions that were unable to defend themselves because, for example, they would face extreme repression. Stern is aware of this possibility, since he mentions “outsourcing strikes to countries where strikes are legal and will not provoke government retaliation” (50) but what he is now proposing, is that unions in rich countries, specifically the United States, should in effect hire unions in low-wage countries as cannon fodder to fight their battles.

It is hard to imagine a more cynical and manipulative approach. It is also totally unrealistic. No union anywhere, except for maybe the usual, useless clients, is going to sign on to Stern’s outsourced mercenary army.

In his book, Stern points out that: “With a mandate from the SEIU’s 2004 convention delegates to build a global union, followed by UNI’s adoption of global unionism, SEIU assigned staff to Australia, Poland, England, India, France, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, South America and, soon, Africa.” (51)

It is not clear why Stern believes that building a “global union” requires assigning SEIU staff to nineteen countries or more. What is the task of these emissaries, and how are they planning to go about building a “global union”? And what would that “global union” look like? Is this too sensitive and important a project to be entrusted to existing international trade union structures? Those structures of course involve mutual democratic accountability. Stern seems to have decided on a short-cut:, create his own labor International, where he would be accountable to no one but himself.

Stern is not a patient man. He is always looking for the short-cut, the quick fix. Organizing a real labor movement in China takes too long? Deal with the fake. Can’t convince a majority of AFL-CIO unions? Pull out, create your own federation. Organizing workers takes too long? Organize through the company.

Read the entire article HERE (includes footnotes for collaboration).


A 10-day trip in May(2007) by a high profile delegation from Change to Win (CtW), and a recent letter on China’s proposed draft labor law from the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to China’s President spotlight new approaches by the world’s trade unions as they grapple with how to deal with China’s emergence as a global economic powerhouse—and how to promote labor rights for Chinese workers.

The Change to Win delegation which included Teamster President James Hoffa, SEIU President Andy Stern, United FarmWorkers President Aruto Rodriguez, CtW Chair Anna Burger, and CtW Executive Director Greg Tarpinian  met with Chinese government officials, executives from US based companies doing business in China, and significantly, with officials from the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the government controlled union federation to which all Chinese unions must belong.





Anna Burger and China's AFCTU Wang Zhaoguo

Anna Burger and China's AFCTU Wang Zhaoguo


Anna Burger, president of Change to Win (CTW), and Wang Zhaoguo, president of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), shake hands after signing a memorandum to facilitate exchanges and cooperation between the two federations.

This type of agreement could be useful. The protocol reportedly includes a clause encouraging cooperation within the framework of common transnational employers sought by the Teamsters. However its positive potential can only be realized by it being followed up by concrete and practical exchanges at sectoral and local levels closer to the more than 100 million Chinese workers that ACFTU claims to represent and the six million members of unions currently affiliated to the CTW.



My end notes:

1.  The ACFTU is the trade union of the Communist Party in China.

2.  Andy Stern has made several trips to China to meet with the ACFTU.

3.  Anna Burger, the Sec. Treasurer of the SEIU and the Chairman of the Change to Win (CTW) coalition of Unions meets with Wang Zhaoguo, president of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU),  and signs a memorandum to facilitate exchanges and cooperation between the two federations.

4.  Andy Stern has weekly “audiences” with President Obama.

5.  Anna Burger is on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, has connections to the Democracy Alliance (George Soros) and Drummond Pike from the Tides Foundation, et.al   Anna Burger has been part of a delegation to China to meet with the ACFTU.


Anna Burger Connections

Anna Burger Connections


Now: IF both Andy Stern and Anna Burger are connected to the Communist Party of China through Union(ACFTU) and BOTH are connected to Obama; what connection does President Obama have to Communist China?



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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] King & Queen’s Communist Love Affair. Romantic Poetwaxes on SEIU’s Stern and Burger and their special relationship with China’s […]

  2. Day after day and connection after connection, the communist ties to this administration are revealed, but most do not want to accept it….or would like to bury it because they are part of it.
    Great article. Please keep at it. I don’t know what it will take, but we have to keep at it.

  3. Andy Stern, SEIU etc are a Clear and present danger to the republic. The collectivist scum and the Communists in the Democratic Party can and will be stopped. Tell the compliant idiots in the Republican Party to lead or get out of the way. A new conservitive American Revolution is going to unfold. Expose the radicals for what they are. Restore the American nation state and bring these teason commiting criminals to justice.

  4. […] Read my entire blog HERE. […]

  5. […] Why Are Andy Stern and Anna Burger of the SEIU Partisan To China’s ACFTU (Ties To Chinese Communis… […]

  6. […] Why Are Andy Stern and Anna Burger of the SEIU Partisan To China’s ACFTU (Ties To Chinese Communis… […]

  7. […] Why Are Andy Stern and Anna Burger of the SEIU Partisan To China’s ACFTU (Ties To Chinese Communis… […]

  8. […] Why Are Andy Stern and Anna Burger of the SEIU Partisan To China’s ACFTU (Ties To Chinese Communis… […]

  9. […] Why Are Andy Stern and Anna Burger of the SEIU Partisan To China’s ACFTU (Ties To Chinese Communis… […]

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