The Service Employees’ Union International is a giant thorn in the side of private equity, but perhaps there are ways to soften the prickliness of SEIU president Andy Stern. For example, invite him to a concert (Note: It’s even better if you’re the concert organizer).
Such was the strategy of Warren Hellman, co-founder and chairman of Hellman & Friedman. During the Q&A portion of a recent speech at Stanford University, Hellman was asked if PE firms deserve to be known as locusts. His response, in part, included the following:
“In this country… There’s the whole thing that Andy Stern and the SEIU leadership has gone through about us laying off people, us laying off divisions, etc… It’s not really what we do, so I think we’re kind of an outlier. In fact, Andy Stern was my guest at my bluegrass festival last weekend, so hopefully he feels a bit differently about us.”
You can get video of the entire speech, which was given at Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance. Make sure to note that when Hellman briefly brings up the carried interest tax issue, he puts his hands over his mouth instead of offering an opinion… So, so close to finally having a big-name PE pro in the States who believes that his ilk are receiving an inequitable advantage.