Politico notes that Andy Stern has chosen a strange time to start infighting among labor to expand his power. With the EFCA, known better as Card Check on the docket, Stern has launched a potentially distracting tug-of-war with Unite HERE, a union with plenty of internal problems as it is:

It’s a moment of great promise for the labor movement, with a friend in the White House and its biggest legislative goal seemingly within reach for the first time in a decade.

But Andy Stern isn’t exactly pausing to soak it all up.

Instead, Stern, the president of the Service Employees International Union and perhaps the labor movement’s most prominent national leader, is marking these heady days for labor by jumping head-first into a nasty internecine dispute — proposing that another major union end its civil war by merging into the SEIU.

The result could mean expanding Stern’s already powerful union into a 2.5-million-member megalith.

Some in the labor movement question why Stern is choosing this very moment to wade into the increasingly contentious fight within the ranks of Unite HERE — suggesting that the good times are the wrong time to put forth an image of top union leaders squabbling over how best to expand their ranks.

Actually, Stern sees it much differently. He sees this moment of Hope and Change as the perfect time to “settle all accounts”, as a fictional “community organizer” put it in an Academy Award-winning movie. With a Democratic Congress and Barack Obama in the White House, Stern sees clear sailing for Card Check. The fact that he’s willing to get involved in this fight shows that Stern doesn’t believe he needs to provide undivided attention to get Card Check through Congress — not exactly a soothing point for its opponents.

How has Stern helped heal union rifts in the past? This interview with former United Health Workers organizer Alexandra Early might give a good perspective. Go to about the 48-minute mark and you’ll hear her describe the brotherhood demonstrated by Stern’s SEIU:

Q. Well Andy Stern is now supporting this Employee Free Choice Act, EFCA. Why don’t you talk about that and your experience with that in relation to what you’re going through now?

A. We’re actually going to have a rally about this on Wednesday because there’s been a lot of stewards who’ve been punished because they’ve been putting out petitions, moving petitions in their facilities to try to get a vote to decide what union they want to be in. For example there was a steward who was threatened by their new representative; their representative threatened the steward by saying, ‘if you keep on moving that petition, I’m going to have you suspended.’ This was the union representative talking to his steward. Speaking like a boss. …

Q. So the SEIU, Andy Stern’s official agent from outside California was telling a worker in California, a shop steward, that he would be suspended if he continued getting signatures for a petition?

A. Yes, and Dave Regan said to us in his meeting on Monday, the Monday after the union was taken over, he said that any stewards that were moving this petition, they should be removed from their title. These are elected stewards that Dave Regan is going to decide who needs to be removed from their position as steward. So they’re saying, “Oh EFCA, all workers should have a free choice to join a union,” but, you know, except for California and members of UHW because those workers shouldn’t have a free choice.

Q. And if they had a free choice, what do you think the vote would be?

A. I mean, their idea of a free choice and a free vote, it would say “Do you want SEIU UHW or do you want SEIU UHW,” you know? Because their vote last time of home care nursing home workers, which we boycotted and sent protestors in—there were more protestors than there were votes—in this last election the choices were “Do you want to have your union divided into nursing home and homecare workers separate from hospital and Kaiser workers or do you want your union to be trusteed?” That was the choice. There was no [option to say]: “I want things to stay the way they are and I want to keep on enjoying the rights I have in the union now.” There was no choice. And they called that a fair vote.

Q. That was a democratic vote according to Andy Stern and his people?

A. That was a democratic vote. Right.

Feel the Hope and Change of the new administration.  We can expect more of these tactics once Card Check gets passed in Congress.  It’s practically a blank check for Stern and the “Union Boss Bills” of the labor movement.

Previous posts on Card Check: