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  • - [Sam] This is an event

  • of the Center for Labor Employment Law.

  • - Excuse me.

  • - [Sam] And our moderator this morning is Ron Checkman.

  • Who's a long standing friend.

  • He's a most distinguished graduate of this school.

  • And, has for many, many years,

  • carved out a very interesting career,

  • representing labor unions talent,

  • public and private sector.

  • He most recently, negotiated,

  • it must be a first time only,

  • profit participation agreement

  • for the original cast members of Hamilton.

  • Which is quite interesting.

  • And Ron and I, in the old days,

  • I don't know if you remember this,

  • we were on the Free Speech Committee of the ACLU.

  • - [Ron] I do remember well.

  • - [Sam] We were trying to come up with

  • a constitutional theory

  • for union political and speech rights,

  • a long, long time ago.

  • So we're very proud of Ron on many different scores,

  • least of which is that he's a member of our

  • Board of the Center for Labor Employment Law

  • and I'm gonna turn it over to Ron.

  • - [Ron] Thanks, Sam.

  • And it's my pleasure as we go along with introductions

  • to introduce the star of this morning's production,

  • who wants proper participation

  • as well. (laughing)

  • - I have rights in the video, so.

  • Everybody understands. (laughing)

  • - [Man] Multiplying a zero,

  • doesn't (mumbles). (laughing)

  • - [Ron] So it's my pleasure to introduce you to Andy Stern,

  • who is the President Emeritus, of the 2.2 million member

  • Service Employees International Unit, SEIU.

  • Representing janitors, childcare, home care,

  • healthcare workers, which grew by more than

  • 1.2 million while he was President.

  • I had the pleasure of meeting him then,

  • when along with the janitors, childcare, home care workers,

  • he organized the and amalgamated

  • the largest union of attending physicians, into the SEIU.

  • He has been called the,

  • and I quote a courageous visionary leader,

  • who chartered a bold new course,

  • for American unionists.

  • He has been featured on 60 Minutes, CNN,

  • on the covers of New York Times magazine,

  • Fortune and Business Week.

  • He's on the boards of the Open Society Foundation,

  • the Hillman Foundation and the Broad Center.

  • He was a presidential appointee,

  • on the Simpson-Bowles Commission,

  • the most frequent visitor

  • to the White House in 2009 and '10.

  • You'll have to tell us what the hell you were doing there.

  • And a key organizer for Obamacare.

  • Is now the Ronald O. Perelman Senior Fellow

  • of the university.

  • His first book, "A Country That Works",

  • was published in 2005

  • and his new book, we're talking about today,

  • "Raising the Floor: How a Universal, Basic Income

  • "Can Renew our Economy and Restore the American Dream."

  • It calls for America to take it to (mumbles)

  • and take bold action in the face of massive potential,

  • the massive potential job disruption.

  • When he was interviewed this spring,

  • he talked about the effects of technology

  • and the structural changes to our economy

  • and how they have affected employment opportunities,

  • for the American worker.

  • He said in that interview,

  • talking about his book,

  • I quote him now and this will ring I'm sure,

  • poignantly to all, "As I like to say,

  • "this is the United States of Anxiety now,

  • "and it's only going to get worse."

  • So clearly, Andy was prescient, talking about this in June.

  • We wish maybe some of his advice

  • to a female politician, who I think just has retired.

  • It would've been more than helpful.

  • It's advice about concerns

  • that were clearly central

  • to the electorate and the presidential election

  • and that has clearly established

  • the United States of Anxiety, for yet many other reasons.

  • Our anxiety won't be relieved until we talk about the issues

  • and the proposals that Andy has thought so much about.

  • So, we have the pleasure this morning,

  • and the opportunity to hear about some of his thinking

  • and to see if he can help us,

  • relieve some of our anxiety.

  • - Thank you very much.

  • It does seem irresponsible to

  • speak anywhere at the moment,

  • and not talk about the election.

  • Unfortunately, Ron gave my cross over remarks.

  • (laughing) that this is actually

  • in some ways, more about the election

  • than we appreciate now and probably even more important,

  • as we think about the world going forward,

  • not just in and around the United States,

  • but around the world,

  • because we can all see with Brexit

  • and many other tensions that are existing around the world,

  • that some combination of you know,

  • race, immigration and economics are fueling

  • a lot of uneasiness and reactions all around the world.

  • So you may wonder why you got up early in the morning

  • to listen to someone who is Exhibit A,

  • of the one job in a lifetime,

  • 20th century economy.

  • Who comes from an institution the American Labor Movement.

  • Not very well known for thinking about the future

  • and is gonna talk to you about an idea

  • called a universal basic income,

  • which I didn't know what it was, three years ago.

  • So thank you for coming,

  • because you may find that this was an early morning that

  • may not have solved all your needs,

  • but I wanna explain how I got here in front of you

  • to talk about this.

  • As was said, I spent my entire life

  • in the most wonderful institution,

  • that I can possibly imagine.

  • I was supposed to go to law school.

  • My father is a lawyer, my brother and sisters are lawyers.

  • I decided at some point, along the whirl,

  • there was a better way for me,

  • in terms of someone who has ADHD

  • and a little bit of a juvenile delinquent,

  • to live his life and that was

  • trying to change other people's lives.

  • I was very fortunate.

  • I knew nothing about unions,

  • when I went, was growing up

  • across the river in New Jersey.

  • I got my first job as a welfare worker,

  • of all things, which will be very relevant

  • as we talk about the book.

  • Went to my first union meeting,

  • 'cause they were serving pizza.

  • (laughing) That was a very principled

  • and profound reason.

  • Then spent the rest of my life,

  • 38 years, doing the most wonderful thing

  • with janitors, and security officers,

  • and nursing home home care, childcare workers,

  • which is working together to make people who are

  • basically powerless, you know, through our union,

  • become powerful.

  • I said and I still believe that,

  • the union movement was the best anti-poverty program,

  • the best welfare program, the best job creation program,

  • the best benefit program, retirement program,

  • America ever created for the 20th century.

  • It didn't cost the government a dime.

  • In the absence of unions,

  • the world has changed and for me,

  • you know, I was very lucky to eventually become

  • for 14 years, President of what became

  • the largest union in the United States,

  • the fastest growing union in the world.

  • We ended up having offices and running campaigns

  • in 12 different countries.

  • I spent a lot of my life,

  • trying to hold private equity in Wal-mart

  • and banks and large multi-national employers,

  • accountable to the workers that they represent.

  • I had a lot of wonderful experiences with all the people

  • I worked with and becoming a large union,

  • the largest political action committee in the country.

  • Spending five years trying to win Obamacare,

  • to not our members, who already health insurance,

  • but so that every American had an opportunity

  • to have the kind of security they wanted to do.

  • I was the most frequent visitor to the White House.

  • The dirty little secret is,

  • every time you go on the White House tour, it counts,

  • so take the tour! (laughing)

  • A lot of you too can be a very important person,

  • just never tell that story, out loud.

  • I was on the Simpson-Bowles Commission.

  • I did something that people never do in Washington,

  • is I quit.

  • I retired.

  • I didn't retire, 'cause I didn't know,

  • you know, that it wasn't a good job,

  • or I was gonna lose my election.

  • I retired because I joined the labor movement,

  • 'cause I wanted to change people's lives

  • and I had lost an ability to understand

  • in the economy, and this was 2010,

  • where inequality was rising,

  • unions were shrinking,

  • jobs were getting worse.

  • Like how to lead an organization of 2.2 million people,

  • when you didn't know where to take it?

  • I felt that was not the right job for me to be in

  • and there were lots of younger and more diverse

  • group of people who were ready to lead

  • and I left it, I began this journey

  • and I'm gonna just tell you what I found,

  • 'cause I only learned three things.

  • Took a lot of time, I'm a slow learner,

  • but I did learn three things.

  • First thing I learned, is this.

  • This is the 20th century American economy,

  • I'll just explain it to you,

  • 'cause you probably can't see it,

  • but in the 20th century,

  • everybody just talked about economic growth.

  • All you had to say if you were a politician is,

  • "The economy is growing."

  • What it really meant, was the economy was growing,

  • productivity growing, jobs were growing

  • and wages were growing.

  • It worked pretty well in the 20th century.

  • The market and unions and the government,

  • sort of combined for large numbers of people

  • to create what we bragged about,

  • which was the largest middle class in the world.

  • You know, there were lots of problems with capitalism.

  • There were lots of problems, but.

  • People were trying to round off the rough edges

  • and as you can see, these four lines grew together.

  • That's the 20th century economy.

  • For the main part.

  • Now the end of the 20th century,

  • something began to happen and that is,

  • this green line, which we now know,

  • looking backwards, which is income.

  • We had growth in productivity.

  • We had growth in GDP.

  • We had growth in jobs

  • and we didn't have growth in income.

  • For 20 and now almost 30 years,

  • American workers didn't get a raise,

  • at least the median, the most of them.

  • Very much is fueling the Trump anxiety,

  • which we'll talk about.

  • That we now know.

  • You know, the union movement then other progressives

  • and economists would say,

  • "You know, wages aren't growing.

  • "Let me say, yeah they're not growing now,

  • "because that's because of globalization,