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Andy Stern
Labor leader

Andy Stern

Andy Stern is president of the two-million member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the fastest-growing union in North America.

The opposite of 'balloon boy'

I am always inspired by ordinary people who do extraordinary things -- and not for fame or fortune. I think most Americans are tired of hyped-up media sensations and self-promoting individuals backed up by PR firms.

Every day in my job at our union, I see home-care workers who care for our parents at the end of life or child care workers who nurture children at the dawn of life, all without much recognition at all. Yet too often America casts them aside for Michael Jackson's funeral or the "balloon boy."

"Sully" Sullenberger, a solid union supporter, is a professional who did his job mostly unnoticed until fate called his number, and he stepped up without hesitation to use the skills and training he had acquired.

Ordinary, hard-working Americans root for others like themselves who demonstrate that leadership is not the sole domain of those who appear regularly on our TV screens, but is alive and too often unrecognized amongst so many.

On behalf of so many others, thank you, "Sully."

By Andy Stern

 |  October 20, 2009; 4:08 PM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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"Just once, I'd like to see a hero walk away and not cash in. But then, we won't let them. Just once, a 'just doing what anyone would do' and go back to an anonymous life. Very hard to do, I suppose."


Happens everyday. You don't 'see' them because just as Andy Stern they're around us all the time. They don't cash in, they do the next days work and just keep going. I applaud Stern for honoring people who work, day in and day out. They don't ask for anything, but just keep doing the right thing.

Posted by: atidwell | October 21, 2009 2:51 PM
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There is nothing "ordinary" about Captain Sullenberger. Outstanding pilot in his graduating class at USAFA, sent off to training in the elite AF program for fighter pilots, stayed at US Airways even though they took away his pension and cut his salary, flew across the country to begin his 3-4 day rotation. So what if he cashed in...he deserves every penny and more. In November, he and his entire crew, will be honored by NAA for their aviation skills. This was no ordinary achievement; 40 years of on-going training, a solid commitment to professionalism. Let's put Sully in charge of a program that, once again, makes being in the aviation industry, particularly as a pilot, a desirable, well-paid career.

Regarding "cashing in," I bet not a person on that flight begrudges him one penny that he earns telling his story.

Sully is not an ordinary man, he is an extraordinary man who made split-second decisions that saved many lives - both in the aircraft and on the ground. Experience, judgment and training pays, not just longevity on the job. Maybe Andy Stern should rethink his words and make certain that unions recognize this.

Posted by: carolineC1 | October 21, 2009 1:30 PM
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Well obviously there is no comparison between Sully and reality show freaks.

However, Sully didn't just walk back into the cockpit and return to his job. He has done a fair amount of cashing-in too.

Posted by: familynet | October 21, 2009 1:13 PM
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The media didn't make a distinction between Capt. Sully and the Balloon Boy, treating both as inspirational stories. But the real issue is that we need to stop looking for others to inspire us, because they're only human like ourselves. It's actually a mild form of deification, one that leads to disappointment when we learn that such people have the same faults as everyone else. The only inspiration that matters comes from inside ourselves as individuals.

Posted by: Carstonio | October 21, 2009 12:39 PM
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According to Merriam-Webster:
hero -- one who shows great courage.
courage -- mental or moral strength to...withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

So a hero is one who shows great mental or moral strength to withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Sully's actions practically define those of a "hero".

Posted by: smc91 | October 21, 2009 12:05 PM
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Just once, I'd like to see a hero walk away and not cash in. But then, we won't let them. Just once, a 'just doing what anyone would do' and go back to an anonymous life. Very hard to do, I suppose.

Posted by: linky902 | October 21, 2009 11:59 AM
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Huny, Huny, Huny,
Has life been so rough for you that you breathe cynicism. Come on! You're right he did do his job, but against all odds he came through for a lot of people that day. Lighten up. You can't really be that COLD can you? Let me add what you would consider MORE mushy stuff. The God of heaven & earth also helped him land that plane. There was definitely devine intervention on this one.

Posted by: alvahines | October 21, 2009 11:21 AM
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Sully's advocating for his fellow pilots was limited to only a sentence or two when he was doing the talk show circuit to promote his book.

Still, the mainstream press's non-coverage of the brave advocacy that Sully engaged in immediately after the crest of his fame was purely despicable.

Posted by: pkotta | October 21, 2009 11:00 AM
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What a bunch of mushy nonsense.
The captain is not a hero;he did not risk his own life to save the lives of others.
He did what a trained, experienced professional supposed to do. He would have landed on the Hudson if the plane had been empty,he saved he own life along with other lives who happened to be on the plane.

Posted by: huny | October 21, 2009 9:49 AM
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And what has Sully used his new found fame for? To make Americans more aware of the dangerous conditions that pilots fly under. Long hours, overtired pilots, and poor pay. That's a legitimate hero. Putting his face out there in an effort to make things better for everyone who flies, pilots and passengers alike, and not for personal gain.

As far as Daddy Balloon Man, he practically defines the word despicable. A would-be opportunist out for himself in our spectacle-obsessed culture. And using his children to further that end shows that he isn't even a decent parent. What a failed human.

Posted by: curtb | October 21, 2009 9:10 AM
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