Anna Burger

Anna Burger

: Photo from Creative Commons / Author of Photo: Center for American Progress Action Fund


* Hailed as “the most powerful woman in the labor movement” and nicknamed the “Queen of Labor”
* Instrumental in steering the labor movement toward progressivism
* Worked for the SEIU since 1972 and helped Andrew Stern break away from the AFL-CIO to form Change to Win
* Became first Chair of Change to Win
* Has been a member of the DNC since 1982
* Organized the SEIU into a political funding and campaign machine for progressive Democrats, including Barack Obama
* Worked in top positions in progressive groups like They Work for Us, Progressive States Network, and Democracy Alliance
* Was involved in directing funds to ACORN
* Advocate for abortion rights, single-payer health care, and the pro-amnesty immigration

Once called “the most powerful woman in the labor movement” by Fortune magazine and nicknamed the “Queen of Labor,” Anna Burger is dedicated to building the progressive movement in the United States and has helped to shape the progressivism of the New Labor movement.

The daughter of a teamster truck driver and a nurse, Burger was born on September 27, 1950 in Levittown, Pennsylvania. In 1972 she began her career as a Pennsylvania caseworker and union activist in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 668. That year, she led a wildcat strike of Philadelphia social workers and was eventually elected as Local 668’s first female president. Her leadership abilities led her to oversee SEIU’s statewide political program and later to become the union’s national field director.

Joining an SEIU-led insurrection against one of her mentors, John Sweeney, and the AFL-CIO in 2005, Burger helped create the new union federation Change to Win (CTW), which sought to revive the strength of unions by doing more to organize women and minorities. SEIU President Andrew Stern appointed Burger as the first Chair of CTW. She continues to serve as the International Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU, one of CTW’s union member organizations.

One of Burger’s chief goals has been to develop the relationship between big labor and political advocacy. She has been a member of the Democratic National Committee since 1984 and has proudly used her union influence to support progressive Democrats. With the financial power of SEIU and CTW behind her, Burger has been able to direct tens of millions of dollars toward Democratic candidates and radical organizations like ACORN. With SEIU in 2004, she spearheaded the largest mobilization by any single organization in the history of U.S. politics, and was instrumental in the grassroots campaign that led Democrats to recapture both Houses of Congress in 2006. Under her direction, the SEIU alone spent $187,500,000 on candidates and policy issues between 2000 and 2008 – nearly 100 percent of which went to Democrats and to liberal policy initiatives. In 2008, the SEIU gave $30 million to the Barack Obama presidential campaign.

On September 27, 2007, Burger, John Podesta, and Andrew Stern wrote a very significant email memo to several leftist billionaires — George Soros, Peter Lewis, Herb and Marion Sandler, Steven Bing, John Sperling, and Michael Vachon — which was subsequently hacked and made public by WikiLeaks nine years later. The memo emphasized that the Left should do everything in its power to change the demographics of the American population by any means necessary — especially immigration and naturalization policy — so as to make those demographics more “advantageous” to Democrats. Said the email: “Ensure that demographics is destiny. An ’emerging progressive majority’ is a realistic possibility in terms of demographic and voting patterns. But it is incomplete in terms of organizing and political work. Women, communities of color, and highly educated professionals are core parts of the progressive coalition. Nationally, and in key battleground states, their influence is growing. Latinos and young voters are quickly solidifying in this coalition as well…. The rapid increase in demographic importance of Latinos will continue for decades. Hispanics have surpassed blacks as the nation’s largest minority group, and Census projections indicate that by about mid-century Hispanics will be one-quarter of the U.S. population (at which point or shortly thereafter, the United States will become a majority-minority nation).”

Burger was a super-delegate representing Pennsylvania in the 2008 elections. During the Democratic National Convention that year, she addressed the nation and championed Obama for President. She continued to lead the union charge to fund, and campaign for, Obama’s presidential run. In February 2009, President Obama appointed Burger, along with other union leaders, to his Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Burger has also been powerfully positioned in a number of leftist organizations:

On September 30, 2009, in a hearing conducted by the House Financial Services Committee, Representative Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina) questioned Burger about her funding relationship with the scandal-plagued community organization ACORN. She told the Committee that the SEIU had “cut all ties to ACORN.” Subsequently, Burger provided financial information to the Committee indicating that in 2008-09 the SEIU had given ACORN $215,000 in contributions, plus another $1.62 million in payment for contracted services rendered.

A passionate proponent of progressive advocacy issues, Burger was instrumental in getting the SEUI to recognize abortion as an essential part of women’s health. She was a longtime champion of the public option for health care reform, urging Democrats in September 2009 to do the bidding of the American people and not to let “Republicans and their insurance industry puppet masters control [the] debate.” She is also an advocate for immigration reform, partnering with pro-amnesty immigration groups to influence the 2010 census and to organize the March for America.

For additional information on Anna Burger, click here.


[1] At They Work For Us, Burger worked alongside Steven Rosenthal; Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of the Daily Kos; Thomas Mattzie, former Washington Director of and Campaign Director of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq; and Eli Pariser, former Executive Director and current Board President of

[2] With PSN, Burger worked with Democratic politicians and powerful progressive figures like John Podesta (President and CEO of the Center for American Progress); Steven Kest (Executive Director of ACORN); David Brock (President and CEO of Media Matters for America); Wes Boyd (President of; and David Sirota (a former fellow at the Center for American Progress).

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