Workforce Fairness Institute

BIG LABOR'S BIG PENSION BIG SPENDING PROBLEM
Obama's Billion Dollar Bosses Spend Extravagantly, Underfund Pensions

Union Pension Deficit Continues To Grow

“US Union Pensions Hole Deepens To $369 Billion”:

The hole in the pension plans of U.S. labor unions now stands at $369 billion, Credit Suisse has calculated with the aid of new reporting standards.  This raises the prospect of higher pension contributions for employers and deteriorating industrial relations.  Multi-employer pension schemes, managed by trade unions on behalf of members working for many different employers, are now just 52 percent funded, the bank calculates with most of the burden to close this gap likely to fall on small and midsize companies.”(Dan McCrum & Ajay Makan, “US Union Pensions Hole Deepens To $369 Billion,” Financial Times, 4/8/12)

Labor Union Pensions Have Been Underfunded For Years

Union Pensions Funds Are Grossly Underfunded:

“The average union pension has resources to cover only 62 percent of what is owed to participants, according to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.  Pensions with less than 80 percent of the assets needed to cover present and projected liabilities are considered ‘endangered,’ while those that fall below a 65 percent threshold are classified as ‘critical’ under the Pension Protection Act of 2006.” (Kevin Mooney, “Unions Want Washington's Help With Pension Funds,” The Washington Times, 3/25/10)

Nearly Half Of All Major Union Pension Plans Are Underfunded:

“Almost half of the nation’s 20 largest unions have pension funds that federal law classifies as ‘endangered’ or in ‘critical’ condition due to being underfunded, an Examiner review of federal actuarial reports …  Eight of the largest unions have underfunded plans, according to the most recent 5500 reports, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Laborers International Union of Northern America, the International Association of Machinists, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the National Plumbers Union.  The average union pension has resources to cover only 62 percent of what is owed to participants, according to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC).  Less than one in every 160 workers is covered by a union pension with required assets.” (Kevin Mooney, “Nearly Half Of Major Union Pensions Are Underfunded,” Washington Examiner, 6/9/09)
                                                                        

Unions Admit Their Pension Plans Are “Facing Difficulties”:

“Michelle Ringuette, a spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), acknowledged that pension funds for her union and for others were facing difficulties but said the fault lies with businesses, not the unions.  ‘SEIU’s pension funds – like all pension funds – were hit hard when the market collapsed in late 2008.  The union is deeply concerned about the instability big banks and the high-finance industry have created in the markets and throughout our economy, and we take very seriously all threats to the retirement security of our members and people who work for a living,’ said Ms. Ringuette, who represents the nation’s largest union by number of members.  Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a scholar with the Hudson Institute, dismissed that explanation.  ‘A lot of these plans were in trouble even before the stock crash, and the members are entitled to know,’ she said, adding that ‘there should be a law against putting out information about pension funds that is simply false.’” (Kevin Mooney, “Unions Want Washington's Help With Pension Funds,” The Washington Times, 3/25/10)

Labor Unions Spend Billions On Political Activities & Candidates

Big Labor Spent More Than $4 Billion Dollars On Political Activity & Federal Candidates From 2005-2011:

“The unions’ reports to the Labor Department capture an additional $3.3 billion that unions spent over the same period on political activity.” (Tom McGinty & Brody Mullins, “Political Spending By Unions Far Exceeds Direct Donations,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/10/12)

“The usual measure of unions’ clout encompasses chiefly what they spend supporting federal candidates through their political-action committees, which are funded with voluntary contributions, and lobbying Washington, which is a cost borne by the unions' own coffers. These kinds of spending, which unions report to the Federal Election Commission and to Congress, totaled $1.1 billion from 2005 through 2011, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.” (Tom McGinty & Brody Mullins, “Political Spending By Unions Far Exceeds Direct Donations,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/10/12)

Service Employees International Union Is The Top Political Spender:

“The top political spender, counting both what is reported to the Labor Department and what is reported to the FEC, was the Service Employees International Union.  Unlike most unions, the SEIU has seen its membership grow – to 1.9 million last year from 1.5 million in 2005.  It reported spending $150 million on politics and lobbying in 2009 and 2010, up from $62 million in 2005 and 2006.” (Tom McGinty & Brody Mullins, “Political Spending By Unions Far Exceeds Direct Donations,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/10/12)

Labor Bosses Bankroll Obama’s Campaigns:

“Corporations and their employees also tend to spread their donations fairly evenly between the two major parties, unlike unions, which overwhelmingly assist Democrats. In 2008, Democrats received 55% of the $2 billion contributed by corporate PACs and company employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Labor unions were responsible for $75 million in political donations, with 92% going to Democrats.” (Tom McGinty & Brody Mullins, “Political Spending By Unions Far Exceeds Direct Donations,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/10/12)

Labor Unions Have Spent Lavishly, While Their Pension Plans Are Underfunded

AFSCME Spent More Than $2 Million Dollars On Conferences In 2010 & 2011:

“For example, whooping it up is the country’s biggest government worker union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).  It spent more than $2 million on 10 conferences at resorts in Las Vegas, Palm Harbor, Fla. or the Tropicana in Atlantic City in 2010 and 2011.  That includes at least $208,400 in tax-free member dues at the Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas, Nev. for a 2011 conference, government documents show (rooms go for an average $189 a night).” (Elizabeth MacDonald, “Big Labor, Big Money,” Fox Business, 7/5/12)

AFL-CIO Spent At Least $2.6 Million In Tax-Free Union Funds On Conferences In 2010 & 2011:

“Trumka’s AFL-CIO unions also spent at least $2.6 million in tax-free union funds from 2010 to 2011 on junkets to nine conferences at places like the Flamingo Hotel or Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, and to resorts in upstate New York and Oregon.  That includes spending more than $1.7 million at the swanky union-owned Westin Diplomat resort in Florida, the Grand Central of union junkets, government documents show.” (Elizabeth MacDonald, “Big Labor, Big Money,” Fox Business, 7/5/12)

Plumbing & Pipe Fitters Union Own A Resort & Spa:

“Government documents show the Plumbing & Pipe Fitters Union of the U.S. and Canada initially spent $44 million of union retirement money to buy the dilapidated Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Fla., in the late-’90s from a union-owned life insurer embroiled in an insider-trading scandal.  Over ensuing years the union spent $800 million in pension funds to demolish and replace the old hotel with a 39-story resort, complete with 60 luxury guest rooms, dining facilities, a spa, 10 clay tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, and pro shops.  The hotel was renamed the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa.” (Elizabeth MacDonald, “Big Labor, Big Money,” Fox Business, 7/5/12)

International Machinists & Aerospace Union Owns A Learjet:

“Union officials have been pretty active using their union’s Learjet-60, purchased for an unknown sum in 1998 (Learjets today cost $13 million new, or around $5 million for used planes).  Government flight records show from February through June 9, union officials flew on the plane 54 times, so on average they were on the plane for about 14 days out of every month.  Union officials used the Learjet to wing around the country to Orlando, Fla., Chicago, Niagara Falls, and to Toronto, Canada, flight records show.” (Elizabeth MacDonald, “Big Labor, Big Money,” Fox Business, 7/5/12)

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