Once again, The World’s Oldest Rule — Follow The Money — explains the issue simply and ellegantly:
Wall Street Journal June 11, 2009 – Unions In Debt
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
… As for the SEIU, as recently as 2002 total SEIU liabilities were about
$8 million. According to its 2008 disclosure form, the union owed more
than $156 million, a 30% increase over the $120 million it owed in 2007.
Its liabilities now equal more than 80% of its $189 million in assets.
Net assets fell by nearly half last year, to $34 million, from $64
million in 2007. The debt includes an $80 million loan the SEIU took out
in 2003 to purchase a new headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. But
the liabilities also stem from political spending, including at least
$67 million last year on political and lobbying expenses, twice what it
spent in 2007.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel March 3, 2011 – Largest unions pay leaders well, give extensively to Democrats
• National Education Association. Membership: 3.2 million; assets:
$216 million. The NEA, representing most of the nation’s teachers, has
31 headquarters officers and employees who earn more than $200,000 in
pay and benefits. The president, Dennis Van Roekel, received $397,721 in
salary and benefits. Of the $3.7 million NEA spent on political
activities in the last election cycle, 98% went to Democratic
candidates. The NEA has 98,000 members in Wisconsin.
Employees International Union. Membership: 1.8 million; assets: $187
million. The SEIU, whose membership has increased in recent years, has
been organizing hospital, home care and nursing home workers, along with
local and state government employees, janitors and security officers.
The union has nine headquarters officers and employees who earn more
than $200,000. The former president, Andy Stern, was paid $306,388 in
salary and benefits from the union in 2009. Stern resigned in 2010 and
was replaced by Mary Kay Henry, formerly the executive vice president.
Over the past two years, SEIU gave almost $2 million to Democratic
candidates and $8,500 to Republicans. It has 18,000 members in
• United Food
& Commercial Workers. Membership: 1.3 million; assets: $157
million. The UFCW, whose members work in meatpacking, food processing
and retail grocery stores, has 17 headquarters officers and employees
who earn more than $200,000. The president, Joseph T. Hansen, received
$360,737 in compensation in 2009. Of the $1.9 million the union donated
to political candidates over the past two years, 99% of it went to
And so on. You get the idea.
Here’s the bottom line: weakening the stranglehold the NEA and other unions have over their members will allow workers more freedom to decide whether union membership is their best option, rather than having the union forcibly decide “yes” and demand compulsory dues payments, or throw up one roadblock after another to prevent workers from exercising their rights under the Beck decision.
And that would mean the end of the gravy train for fat cat union bosses and the Democrat party. Union leaders must be really scared, because their organizations are collectively hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and their only source of revenue is union dues. If workers were ever empowered in ways that would allow them to organize against their own unions, and withhold their dues in order to
force the unions to open up their books and explain their
own Enron/Madoff-style accounting tricks, then the unions would collapse under the weight of their own corruption.
And frankly, it’s about damn time for that to happen.