Big Labor insolvent?
posted at 9:28 am on June 10, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
No wonder the unions have fought so hard to get Card Check passed. The Wall Street Journal reports that the SEIU and the AFL-CIO have all but gone bankrupt after throwing away tens of millions in the last election. The massive unemployment in union-sector jobs may sound their death knell:
‘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.
Obama demanded tighter enforcement of Wall Street for not handling its investments properly. Why is he allowing the unions off the hook for the same problem? At least people invest willingly on Wall Street; unions take their dues whether the employee wants the union or not.
How badly have the unions handled the money?
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. …
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.
They need Card Check to rope more dues into the coffers. Card Check would allow the unions to intimidate workers into signing cards and eliminate the secret ballot that would give employees one last opportunity to reject intimidation from either side. Once the union gets its closed shop, it can suck dues out of the paychecks and in essence cover up the profligate spending of the union bosses.
Congress needs to reject Card Check and demand greater disclosure from unions on what they do with worker dues. If Obama and the Democrats don’t want that, then Republicans need to inform union workers of these facts and ask them who stands up for the working men and women of this country — and who stands with the union bosses who have thrown away their money.