Anna Burger is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union. Burger resides in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Earl F. Gohl, Jr. and their daughter, Erin Burger Gohl who studies at Smith College. She has been hailed by Fortune Magazine as "the most powerful woman in the labor movement", and was named in 2007 as one of the Wall Street Journal’s "Top 50 Women to Watch".
Burger began her career in 1972 as a rank-and-file Pennsylvania state caseworker and union activist before her election as SEIU Local 668's first female president. She moved on to run the statewide political program and later became SEIU's national field director.
In her position at the Service Employees International Union, Burger directed the grassroots member action program that helped pro-worker candidates win both majorities in Congress in 2006, and the largest mobilization by any single organization in the history of U.S. politics in 2004. During this cycle, SEIU members built the largest labor PAC in the country by voluntarily raising more funds than any other union.
2002 ACORN convention
Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) brought some 2,000 delegates attending the national convention of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now to their feet with a ringing call for “the people’s agenda.”
Standing before a banner bearing the convention theme “Justice Now, Justice Always,” Davis drew cheers as he ticked off a list of demands of the people’s movement: livable wage, affordable prescription drugs and health care, higher minimum wage, public education, equal opportunity and affirmative action.
Other speakers talked of a need for a people’s movement to “save our country.” SEIU international Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger said, “How do we save our country? Organize, radicalize, mobilize.” Burger lambasted corporate CEOs and their allies in the Bush administration for favoring the rich at the expense of the rest of the country. “How greedy can they get?” she asked, warning: “We have to do more before our Constitution, our democracy, even our way of life is taken away.”
In an appeal for an alliance of labor and community organizations to fight the people’s battles, Burger said, “We need your help, you need our help. Together we can take back our government, and our country.”
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) charged that, for the Bush administration and the Republican leadership in Congress, “everybody comes before the people,” and said that with their drive to repeal the estate tax, Republicans are putting “rich dead people before poor people.” Congress should block tax cuts for the rich until everyone has an affordable place to live, she declared.
Assailing the Bush administration’s anti-immigrant policies, Schakowsky said, “Since Sept. 11, this administration has had a hard time distinguishing between terrorists and immigrants who come to this country only to make their lives better. They deserve a living wage along with everybody else.”.
Paul Wellstone tribute
As the 2004 Democratic National Convention was poised to open in Boston , Jobs with Justice, , hosted a living tribute to the late Senator Paul Wellstone on July 25. Hundreds filled the historic Old West Church to tackle the question, “What must the Democratic Party do to live up to the progressive vision of Paul Wellstone?”
“Paul had the courage to stand the pain that comes with standing for something and not fall for anything,” said United Steelworkers of America union International President Leo Gerard. “That’s what the Democratic Party needs right now. He gave people a reason to fight, to hope.”
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), another panel member, called for “Wellstone Democratic Clubs” to mobilize neighborhoods into the political process to re-order national resources.
Many in the audience were students at Camp Wellstone, a workshop conducted in Boston for prospective candidates and campaign workers conducted by Wellstone’s campaign manager, Jeff Blodgett, also on the panel.
Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.) pointed out that too many liberals, including himself, voted for “welfare reform” in 1996. He praised Wellstone as the lone voice defending welfare at the time.
Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner quickly jumped in, igniting the audience with a clarion call for popular direct action to ensure accountability from a Kerry administration. “We need Kerry there and we need to be there to purge the cancer (of the Bush administration) from the soul of the body politic,” he said.
“Tell that to Texas farmers who are losing their farms or workers who have lost their jobs to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement),” Hightower said. “Who the hell elected the WTO (World Trade Organization)? Right now, in Washington, there are too many 5-watt bulbs sitting in 100-watt sockets. The people are revolting – in the best sense. I think we are going to get George.”
Confessing to once being a Republican, columnist Arianna Huffington reminded the assembly of all the dirty tricks and disgusting tactics that are on the horizon as November nears. Saying that “Mobilization is the key,” she proposed reaching out to the 50 percent of the eligible electorate that stayed home in 2000. “If we are able to just energize 10 percent of those voters, we win.”
The program included the presentation of awards to two attorneys, Julie Patino and Nadine Cohen, both of whom have fought difficult battles to protect affirmative action and voting rights of Massachusetts residents and immigrants. Other panelists included Al Franken, media personality, noted Columbia professor Frances Fox Piven and Anna Burger, vice president of the Service Employees International Union.
Change to Win
On September 27, 2005, Burger was elected as the first chairperson of labor federation, Change to Win. On August 11, 2010, Burger stood down, with United Food and Commercial Workers president Joe Hansen taking over.
On November 29, 2006 Open Society Institute held a roundtable discussion entitled "How Do Progressives Connect Ideas to Action?"
- Individuals and organizations with similarly progressive goals often dilute their power by working alone or even working at cross-purposes. As Americans who are politically left of center move forward, questions of infrastructure, communication, and collaboration are particularly important.
Participants included several key leaders of the "progressive" movement;
- Deepak Bhargava Center for Community Change
- Robert Borosage Campaign for America's Future.
- Rosa Brooks Open Society Institute
- Anna Burger Service Employees International Union
- Eric Foner Columbia University, Department of History
- Michel Gelobter Redefining Progress
- Hendrik Hertzberg The New Yorker
- Alan Jenkins Opportunity Agenda
- Gara LaMarche Open Society Institute
- Jal Mehta New Vision Institute for Policy and Progress
- David Moss The Tobin Project
- Iara Peng Young People For
- Stephanie Robinson The Jamestown Project at Yale
- Joel Rogers University of Wisconsin Law School
- Andrea Batista Schlesinger Drum Major Institute for Public Policy
- Katrina vanden Heuvel The Nation editor.
- John Podesta Center for American Progress
- Michael Waldman The Brennan Center for Justice
- Matthew Yglesias The American Prospect
Anna Burger has been an active delegate to the Democratic National Convention since 1984 and has worked on the party's platform.
Vote for Change
Turning its attention toward the November general elections, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign kicked off a massive 50-state voter registration campaign on May 10, 2008.
Thousands of volunteer activists, including many first-time volunteers, gathered in more than 100 locations across the country to launch the “Vote for Change” campaign. The goals, according to national co-chair Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois, are to “get millions of new voters registered and engage and motivate millions who are registered but don’t participate. This is about the change we will bring, not what Sen. Obama will bring alone.”
Other national Vote for Change co-chairs include Change to Win Chair Anna Burger, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Maria Elena Durazo, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and musicians Melissa Etheridge, Dave Matthews and Usher Raymond IV.
Progressives for Obama
Progressive States Network
In 2010, Anna Burger served on the Board of Directors for the Progressive States Network, an organization which seeks to "transform the political landscape by sparking progressive actions at the state level".
China trip, 2009 - "Partnership with Chinese Unions"
Kent Wong's UCLA Labor Center participated in a historic meeting between the Change to Win federation and the All China Federation of Trade Unions in August 2009. An agreement signed by CtW Chair Anna Burger and ACFTU Vice Chairwoman Sun Chunlan at ACFTU headquarters in Beijing promotes cooperation between the two federations on key projects, such as joint research on multinational corporations operating in the United States and China.
It was the first time in history that such an agreement has been signed between trade union federations in the two countries.
The UCLA Labor Center pledged work with SEIU and the Teamsters, as well as with ACFTU, to conduct research on labor standards, labor law enforcement, and collective agreements in the multiservice, express delivery, and commercial banking industries. In late 2010, the Labor Center will participate in a binational US-China conference, hosted by the ACFTU, to explore ways research findings can improve labor standards.
In Beijing, Andy Stern and Kent Wong met with faculty members from the Labor Relations College of Renmin University and also visited the Migrant Workers’ Center.
In addition to Anna Burger, the US delegation included SEIU President Andy Stern, CSEA Executive Director Josie Mooney, Ginny Coughlin from SEIU, and UCLA Labor Center Director Kent Wong. Labor Center staff member Scott E. Myers served as the delegation’s Chinese interpreter.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Politico: Biography on Anna Burger (accessed on Sept. 1, 2010)
- ↑ http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/anna_burger.html
- ↑ ACORN convention targets peoples needs, PW July 4 2002
- ↑ Wellstone legacy: Stand up and fight, July 31 2004
- ↑ Politico - Ben Smith's Blog: Burger leaves SEIU; Hansen to lead Change to Win, Aug. 11, 2010 (accessed on Sept. 1, 2010)
- ↑ Washington Posts's "The Fix" Blog: Anna Burger to leave SEIU, Change to Win, by Chris Cillizza, August 11, 2010 (accessed on Sept. 1, 2010)
- ↑ http://www.soros.org/resources/events/progressives_20061129
- ↑ http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/anna_burger.html
- ↑ PW. Vote for Change registration drive kicks off in 50 states, May 17 2008
- ↑ Progressives for Obama
- ↑ Leadership, Democracy Alliance
- ↑ PSN website: Board of Directors (accessed on Sept. 1, 2010)
- ↑ Labor Education News, | WINTER-SPRING 2010, page 4