‘We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama,” declared Andy Stern last month, and the president of the Service Employees International Union wasn’t exaggerating. The SEIU and AFL-CIO have been spending so much on politics that they’re going deeply into debt.
That news comes courtesy of federal disclosure forms that unions file each year with the Department of Labor. The Bush Administration toughened the enforcement of those disclosure rules, but under pressure from unions the Obama Labor shop is slashing funding for such enforcement. Without such disclosure, workers wouldn’t be able to see how their union chiefs are managing their mandatory dues money.
Even some leaders are getting antsy:
Alarm is coming even from inside the AFL-CIO — specifically, from Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, who sits on the AFL-CIO’s finance committee. Bloomberg News reports that he is circulating a report claiming the AFL-CIO engaged in “creative accounting” to conceal financial difficulties heading into last year’s Presidential election. As recently as 2000, the union consortium of 8.5 million members had a $45 million surplus. By June of last year it had $90.6 million in liabilities, or $2.3 million more than its $88.3 million in assets. “If we are not careful, insolvency may be right around the corner,” Mr. Buffenbarger warned.
But don’t worry, those guys will make out OK, even if their members won’t. Via Instapundit, from the Washington Examiner: Union officer pension plans remain flush as rank-and-file retirement plans deteriorate
Pension plans for union officers remain healthy and well-funded even as rising liabilities threaten to consume the savings of their rank and file counterparts who participate in different funds within the same labor organization, according to a Hudson Institute study.
This disparity became evident from a sample of the 21 largest union and staff pension plans from the same organizations. They are: The Service Employees International Union, UNITE-HERE, the United Steelworkers, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Plumbers and Pipefitters, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Sheet Metal Workers and the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.
“This issue of rank and file pension plans being funded less than the officer pension plans is extraordinarily serious and shows a great moral failing on the part of the unions,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute who authored the study.
…As of 2005, none of the rank-and-file pension plans were fully funded, seven were in critical condition and 14 had less than 80 percent of their needed assets, the study showed. By contrast, 23 officer and staff funds from the same unions were much better off, Furchtgott-Roth said.
No wonder they’re pushing so hard for card check.