The Service Employees International Union will get a new leader, very soon. The union just announced that an announcement is close: SEIU's board will hold an election this Saturday, May 8, to determine the new president, who will then be introduced to reporters and 2.2 million SEIU members on a conference call that afternoon.

SEIU's current president, Andy Stern--who led SEIU to split away from the AFL-CIO, formed the new labor coalition Change to Win, and is generally considered one of the most, if not the most, influential labor leaders and non-politician Democratic figures in the nation--said in April that he would retire as president, though it wasn't known exactly when that would happen.

Stern will officially step down on Saturday. Immediately after that, the 70-some members of SEIU's international executive board will hold an election to replace him. The new president will take office immediately and will be introduced on the conference call.

All signs point to Mark Kay Henry, an executive vice president of SEIU, who is the only person currently running for the position. SEIU Secretary Treasurer Anna Burger, a close Stern ally who serves as president of Change to Win, withdrew her name from consideration.

Whoever becomes the next president--if a surprise candidate arises in the next two days--will inherit a powerful union that has close ties to the Obama administration and an impressive operation for raising and spending money in support of Democrats. (SEIU spent over $80 million to help elect Obama.) He/she will also inherit a sticky situation in the labor movement: talks were tentatively opened last year on Change to Win unions reaffiliating with the AFL-CIO--to reunify the split American labor movement--but those talks have apparently stalled.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to