Workforce Fairness Institute

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 Bosses Have Spent Close To A Billion Dollars For Obama

Labor Bosses Plan To Spend $400 Million Dollars For Obama During 2012 Presidential Election:

“Unions are gearing up to spend more than $400 million to help re-elect President Barack Obama and lift Democrats this election year in a fight for labor’s survival.” (Sam Hananel, “Unions Gearing Up To Spend Big In 2012 Election,” The Associated Press, 2/22/12)

Labor Bosses Spent Half A Billion Dollars For Obama During 2008 Presidential Election:

“There has been nothing coy about the Democratic presidential candidates’ courtship of Big Labor.  After all, union endorsements come with armies of door-knocking, phone-calling, sign-waving foot soldiers; union leaders will spend about half a billion dollars on political campaigns this election cycle.” (Tim Miller, “Giving Away The Store,” The New York Post, 12/17/07)

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 Boss Pensions Fully Funded, While Worker Plans Go Bankrupt

Unions Bosses Receive Generous Benefits, While Dues-Paying Members Are Hurt:

“Union officer benefits are also far more generous than anything dues-paying workers enjoy.  Consider again the SEIU, probably the country’s most powerful union.  Their officers and employees get a yearly 3% cost of living increase, but SEIU members get none; officers qualify for an early pension at 50 or after more than 30 years of service, but workers can’t retire early with a pension; officers qualify for disability retirement after a year’s service, but workers need 10 years.  In the land of union retirement, some workers are more equal than others.” (Editorial, “Union Pensions In The Red,” The Wall Street Journal, 7/26/09)

“Union Officers’ Pension Plans Are Significantly Better Funded Than The Plans They Negotiate For Their Rank-And-File Counterparts”:

“Union officers’ pension plans are significantly better funded than the plans they negotiate for their rank-and-file counterparts, raising questions about whether union members have been manipulated by those they trust to bargain for them.  The average union staff plan is funded at over 95 percent, while the average funding percentage of a rank-and-file member’s pension plan is 79 percent, according to a September study by the Hudson Institute.  None of the staff pensions are on the Department of Labor’s list of critically underfunded pension plans, while more than half of rank-and-file pension plans are endangered.  (A pension is considered ‘endangered’ by the government when it contains less than 80 percent of the assets needed to cover its liabilities.)” (Aleksandra Kulczuga, “Unions Pat Themselves First, Rank-And-File Second (And Less)” The Daily Caller, 4/7/10)

“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.” (Kevin Mooney, “Union Officer Pension Funds Remain Flush As Rank-And-File Retirement Plans Deteriorate,” Washington Examiner, 6/11/09)

·        “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.” (Kevin Mooney, “Union Officer Pension Funds Remain Flush As Rank-And-File Retirement Plans Deteriorate,” Washington Examiner, 6/11/09)

Labor Bosses Laugh All The Way To The Bank, While Workers Suffer

Labor Bosses Earn “More Than Twice As Much As The Average Union Worker”:

“In the past five years, pink slips have descended upon tens of thousands of union workers in Michigan, while others have seen their health care and pension benefits gutted and wages frozen or cut.  But in many cases, labor’s pain stops at the union hall door.  During the toughest economic times for organized labor in decades, union leaders are more likely to keep their jobs and get raises than the members they serve.  A Detroit News analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data revealed a growing pay divide between labor bosses and the rank and file who pay their salaries with their dues … The pay gap between the state’s 50 top-paid labor leaders and union workers has grown by $18,000 since 2002 -- an economic chasm expanding by almost $10 a day.  Records supplied to the Labor Department by the unions themselves show that the state’s 50 top-paid union officials now earn an average of $186,000.  More than 1,000 labor officers and staffers in Michigan made more than $100,000 in 2006, more than twice as much as the average union worker.” (Mike Wilkinson & Ron French, “Labor Bosses Don't Share Workers' Pain,” The Detroit News, 8/14/07)

Obama Administration Supports Big Labor Bailouts

Obama Labor Board Supports “Ambush” Elections:

“In a win for organized labor, the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday approved sweeping new rules that would speed the pace of union elections, making it easier for unions to gain members at companies that have long rebuffed them.  Business groups quickly denounced the move, saying it limits the time employers have to present their own case to workers about the impact of joining a union.” (Sam Hananel, “Business Groups To Fight New NLRB Rules,” The Associated Press, 12/21/11)

Obama Labor Board Supports “Micro-Unions”:

“In a case known as Specialty Healthcare, the board decided that the union could seek to organize a group that consists only of nursing assistants, a blow to the employer, which wanted to include other nonprofessional employees in the unit.  Employer groups had been concerned the board would use the health-care industry case to endorse the formation of so-called mini-bargaining units in a range of workplaces, which they said would allow unions to target small groups of workers the unions know would support unionization.  The Democrats on the board, in their written decision, used the case to clarify what they said has been longstanding policy in various industries when determining what constitutes an appropriate group of workers to organize.  They said that when an employer disagrees with a union’s proposal to organize a narrower group of employees, the onus is on the employer to prove the excluded workers share ‘an overwhelming community of interest’ with those in the proposed unit.  The board’s lone Republican, Brian Hayes, disagreed with this assessment in his dissent.” (Melanie Trottman, “NLRB Sides With Unions In Three Cases,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/30/11)

Obama Labor Board Supports Invasion Of Worker Privacy:

“A proposal by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to include workers’ email addresses and phone numbers on voter lists for union elections could become the next flashpoint in the war between labor and business.  Originally proposed as part of the NLRB’s union election rule in June last year, the provision was shelved when the labor board passed other portions of that rule in December.  But opposition to sharing workers’ contact information has begun to grow on Capitol Hill and among business groups over worries that the NLRB may bring the proposal back.” (Kevin Bogardus, “NLRB Plan To Share Workers’ Email, Phone Numbers Under Fire,” The Hill, 3/24/12)

Big Labor’s Bailouts Denounced

The Denver Post: “Here we go again.  Rule changes proposed this week by the National Labor Relations Board that would make it easier for unions to organize are yet another effort to tilt the playing field in favor of labor.  The new rules would drastically shorten the time that workers have before being asked to vote on unionization.  They’re unfair to employers and employees alike, and they ought to be rejected.  While the changes are the latest endeavor to give unions advantages in organizing, they certainly aren’t the only effort.  Since Barack Obama was elected president with broad union support, Big Labor has relentlessly tried to collect on the work it did to get him into office.” (Editorial, “Editorial: NLRB Should Back Off Plan To Shorten Union-Vote Time,” The Denver Post, 6/23/11)

The Wall Street Journal: “The descent of the National Labor Relations Board from independent referee to a wholly owned AFL-CIO subsidiary is speeding up.  Now its two Democratic appointees are attempting to ram through a new rule requiring quickie organizing elections, with barely any notice and little consultation with its sole GOP member … This is Big Labor’s version of speed dating, and no wonder.  Union membership is down to some 7% of the private workforce, and falling.  Fewer workers want to join unions as they see what has happened to the competitiveness of union-dominated industries.  Labor’s response is to rig the rules so that companies have little time and fewer resources to educate workers about the risks posed by unions.  When unions couldn’t get a ‘card check’ bill banning secret-ballot elections through even a Democratic Congress, they turned to the NLRB for this and other dirty work.” (Editorial, “The NLRB Putsch,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/28/11)

The Washington Times: “Big Labor played such an essential role in delivering the White House to President Obama that the head of the influential government workers union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told The Washington Times after the election that the union was expecting ‘payback.’  Payback’s name is H. Craig Becker.  That’s who President Obama nominated for a seat overseeing federal labor laws on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Mr. Becker’s record as a top lawyer for both the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO is so troubling that even Democrats such as Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Louisiana and Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska thought someone else should be found for the job.  Though the Senate has consistently refused to confirm Mr. Becker, the president has no intention of abandoning Big Labor’s champion.” (Editorial, “Obama’s Big Labor Payback,” The Washington Times, 3/26/10)

Las Vegas Review-Journal: “What was the federal government’s role in labor-management relations, again?  To maintain a level playing field?  The National Labor Relations Board has approved a new rule requiring private employers to display posters telling workers about their right to form a union, as well as their right to distribute union literature and engage in other union activities without reprisal … Make no mistake, this is merely another step toward a goal long advanced by union activists, which is to receive the government’s blessing to ignore private property rights, setting up union recruitment tables inside the hallways and cafeterias of every targeted workplace in America.  Who knows, maybe that’ll even be part of President Obama’s newest ‘jobs’ program.” (Editorial, “National Labor Relations Board Oversteps Role With New Rule,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/29/11)

© 2014 Workforce Fairness Institute