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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-06-07 07:05 PM
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Labor's most powerful woman

The Service Employees International Union's Anna Burger combines the typical combative stance towards management with a search for common ground.

By Nina Easton, Fortune Washington bureau chief
October 4 2007: 11:32 AM EDT

(Fortune) -- Anna Burger reaches into her bag, pulls out a file and offers up the numbers: 8 out of 10 Americans think corporations' profits only benefit the top earners, that companies are too focused on the short term, that their actions contribute to driving down wages.

Burger is the most powerful woman in the labor movement, and her union -- the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU -- sponsored this latest public opinion poll.

True, the survey questions are loaded, almost along the lines of, "Do you think marauding profiteers are good for America?" And the conclusions provide an unsurprising feed to labor's long-running anti-management storyline. Moreover, these latest poll numbers are tempered by opinion polls showing that labor's Democratic allies now running Congress are equally unpopular.

But what's striking is that Burger, the union's secretary-treasurer, is here at all. We are sitting on a patio outside a Ritz Carleton conference room in Dana Point, California, where some of the most important women in corporate America have gathered for Fortune's annual Most Powerful Women's Summit.

"This not the normal way I spend my Monday's and Tuesday's," laughs Burger, a willowy woman with cropped blonde hair and piercing blue eyes.

Indeed, Burger -- who started her labor-organizing career as a social worker in Pennsylvania -- spends most of her time with nurses and janitors and the maids who clean the Ritz and other posh hotels, at least when she's not being courted by Democratic presidential candidates eager for SEIU's support. (The union, which is the fastest growing in the nation, recently disappointed those same candidates when it decided to put off until next week a decision about endorsing a candidate in the Democratic primary race.)

FULL story at link.

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