Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern, labor’s most outspoken leader, will retire, according to an SEIU local president based in Seattle, Diane Sosne. During Andy Stern’s tenure as president, SEIU rose to prominence disaffiliating with AFL-CIO in 2005 and going on to collectively bargain for 2.2 million workers.

In a press release issued by AWF (PDF Document), they stated:

“This year, more than any in recent history, Andy Stern has been the voice of Big Labor – a voice that pushed for less worker freedom and more union control while skirting the law. Stern continued to lobby year after year, even after he terminated his registered status as a lobbyist, possibly violating federal law. I guess now we will never know exactly what happened behind the scenes of Stern’s labor empire,” said Brian Johnson, Executive Director of the Alliance for Worker Freedom.

The past twelve months have been tumultuous for the SEIU and Andy Stern. Currently under investigation by the US State Attorney for potentially violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act, Stern has been the subject of criticism by transparency advocates. In California, SEIU was accused of changing ballots and threatening to report a worker to immigration officials.

“Stern did whatever it took to build his empire. Aggressively pursuing organized labor’s agenda, he often used precarious tactics and utilized contentious relationships, like ACORN, to get what he wanted,” Johnson added. “Stern defined the modern labor movement. It will be interesting to see who picks up the reins and what Stern does to occupy his time. Regardless, I am certain Washington has not seen the last of Andrew Stern.”

Anna Burger, SEIU secretary-treasurer, second-highest executive and head of Change to Win will be challenged by an executive vice president, Mary Kay Henry.