Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal had a great editorial up on the hypocrisy of SEIU leadership. Andy Stern and his cronies are more intent than ever on blackmailing unwilling companies into forcing SEIU "representation" on their employees through a series of vicious corporate campaigns:
SEIU President Andy Stern is the drama king of Big Labor, and Thursday's publicity blitz will feature all of his signature choreography: Rallies in 18 states and even overseas, in which thousands of union activists will march against companies and politicians they don't like. Themes include "Buyout Monsters On the Loose" and "The War on Greed." To listen to Mr. Stern, this is about getting Congress to close tax "loopholes" for private equity firms, while funding national health care and "middle class" tax cuts.
That's a sideshow. The real targets are private equity firms such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Carlyle Group, which own companies that have resisted SEIU attempts to organize their workers. Mr. Stern wants to pound these firms with bad publicity and political retribution until they break.
What's worse, it turns out that the SEIU's activism is apparently being funded illegally. Just today, Foundation president Mark Mix requested a Department of Justice investigation into new SEIU directives allowing Andy Stern to impose financial penalties on any local affiliate that doesn't meet mandatory political fundraising targets. Not only that, but local unions may be forced to pay the SEIU's fines with money collected from nonmember employees' compulsory agency fees. We hope that the DoJ and the Department of Labor will move quickly to investigate this apparent criminal activity (the Foundation's press release is available here).
Given the SEIU's checkered past, these new developments aren't particularly surprising. But aggressive union activism does have a cost. Devoting untold sums of money to intimidating employers evidently comes at the expense of the union's so-called "representation":
Mr. Stern's "middle class" spin would be more believable if the SEIU did more for its own members, especially their pensions. Public records based on the SEIU's own filings show that the SEIU National Industry Pension plan – which covers some 101,000 workers – was only 75% funded in 2006. Put another way, the plan had only three-fourths of the money it needs to meet its retirement obligations. And the national chapter is only the start. Some 13 local SEIU pension plans in 2006 were less than 80% funded; several didn't reach 65%.
Some of this might be the result of poor investment performance, but the main problem is that the SEIU hasn't negotiated adequate employer contributions to the plans.
The SEIU's top brass, on the other hand, is guaranteed generous compensation funded by employees' mandatory dues-payments. Too bad the workers they're supposed to be representing don't receive similar benefits:
On the other hand, SEIU leaders are highly attentive to their own pension funding. A separate fund run by the national union, this one covering the benefits of SEIU officers, was 103% funded in 2006. The top SEIU guns are set for their golden years.
Read the whole sordid tale here.