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.


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Comments

Buy Ford.

Better hurry. It won’t be long before the UAW goes on strike at Ford to force them into bankruptcy, so Obama can give them that company too.

Gator Country on June 10, 2009 at 11:42 AM

I understand the need for unions back when companies were basically treating people like slaves, but since then things have been handled…or mishandled…in a very unamerican way.

I don’t understand how it is that Americans allowed unions to walk into a shop and because 50.01% vote in favor of unionizing, the rest of the workers are forced to join as well.

That doesn’t sit well with me. It’s great if the union is working FOR you, but that hasn’t been the case in what, 60 years? But I don’t know, I’ve never been in a union so I don’t understand the whole socialist thing.

Spiritk9 on June 10, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Hmm…Union…Mafia…Fiat A connection?

Jeff from WI on June 10, 2009 at 11:48 AM

More reasons not to buy a GM car. My vote at the ballot box didn’t hurt them but my vote with my wallet is something they are going to feel.

Buy Ford.

Voter from WA State on June 10, 2009 at 11:37 AM

Ford is STILL UAW. Buy Korean. Made here, pretty good quality, excellent price, and unlike Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, etc., the South Koreans never bombed Pearl.

Jeff from WI on June 10, 2009 at 11:51 AM

Buy Ford.

Voter from WA State on June 10, 2009 at 11:37 AM

Buy Toyota.

And before you go thinking I’m against American cars, here’s some facts for you. By American government standards, the Toyota Camry, Avalon, and Corolla ARE American cars. Not only are they assembled here in the states, but more than 51% of their parts are supplied by companies here in the states.

I also worked in the automotive industry for 16 years. Toyota had higher quality standards than any other American car maker. If I ever become convinced that someone else builds a better car, I’ll buy it. But for now I’ll be going back to my local Toyota dealership when it’s time for a new car.

Kowboy on June 10, 2009 at 11:54 AM

This is like Russia where businesses were just taken from some and give away to the party loyalists.

mph on June 10, 2009 at 10:15 AM

And it will be like Zimbabwe where the black President, Robert Mugabe, took away thousands of farms from their owners and gave them to his party loyalists. If the U.S.A doesn’t soon start to get a serious handle on Obama, America is going to be known as Zimbabwe West.

Basil Fawlty on June 10, 2009 at 11:58 AM

Lemme guess…the SEIU got that $80 million loan from Citibank.

rockmom on June 10, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Part of the problem is stock prices. They invested heavily in union companies and the stock cratered. How much did UAW lose on automotive stock? How ironic if they go broke. My math tells me when they wanted billions from GM for retiree health plans they would waste the money.

seven on June 10, 2009 at 12:07 PM

It was a good investment. Look what it bought them. Favored status in the creditor line on auto bankruptcy, leading to partial ownership, leading to a mechanism for continually absorbing taxpayer dollars into UAW coffers. Pretty good return on investment and we haven’t even hit the 6 month interval.

Of course it was. Then there is the SEIU – it is lead by the ACORN founder. ACORN gets the Census work. The state run media seems to be blind to the connections. “These are not the droids you are looking for.”

lovedinthekeys on June 10, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Every state should be a Right To Work state.

trigon on June 10, 2009 at 12:27 PM

TO BIG TO FAIL!!

Seriously, waterboard me now, I need some relief from the torture of the Obama administration!!

ihasurnominashun on June 10, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Chrysler received from US, what? Somewhere around $10 Billion?
Worth of UAW’s portion of Chrysler is, what? Somewhere around $10 Billion?
No … I don’t see a connection.

MzeeTamu on June 10, 2009 at 12:49 PM

If the UAW acts up at Ford in this economy, Mulally needs to go PATCO on them. Plenty of people would kiss ass for a non-union job making cars for an American automaker at, say, 85% of current compensation.

alflauren on June 10, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Still kind of tough to buy a Japanese car no matter if it’s made here or not. Every one of the reminds me of a
Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Jeff from WI on June 10, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Die, parasites…DIE.

And when you close shop, take your toy President with you.

Wanderlust on June 10, 2009 at 1:38 PM

With the SCOTUS dropping the appeal of the Indiana Pension Fund, etc., what will stop the unions from demanding high wages and benefits that will put a company at a disadvantage and lead to bankrupcy, only to have Obama give them the keys to the company? Owners of companies need to look at the GM/Chrysler “bankrupcies” to realize if EFCA passes, their company (along with their investment and hard work) will be lost to the unions.
Maybe the Republicans should also target teachers that were thrown under the bus.

djaymick on June 10, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Look for the union label…

then don’t buy.

Mason on June 10, 2009 at 2:15 PM

How soon will it be until Obama arranges for the unions to get bailed out by us taxpayers?

mydh12 on June 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

Oops. I should have said, “How soon will it be until Obama arranges again for the unions to get bailed out by us taxpayers? Obama already forced us to bail out the UAW worker’s fat pensions and benefits at GM and Chrysler with $50B.

mydh12 on June 10, 2009 at 2:31 PM

There’s something really smelly here. The union dues are supposed to be for representation in the workplace, and there is supposed to be a separate political fund from which individual union members may opt out of contributing.

What this story is saying is that the unions commingled the money. I think it’s time for union members to ask where their representational funds went, and to hold those who did the commingling responsible.

unclesmrgol on June 10, 2009 at 2:34 PM

I’d be curious to know how the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are doing.

Ironic, isn’t it, how the NEA endorsed Obama and now those retired Indiana teachers are getting screwed in this Chrysler mess?

Special K on June 10, 2009 at 3:20 PM

How soon will it be until Obama arranges for the unions to get bailed out by us taxpayers?

mydh12 on June 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

It was my understanding when an airline went anatomy up, the Federal Pension guarantee funds did a sing lump payout on the pensions of around 25,ooo dollars. Pension insurance doesn’t keep up payments They do a lump settlement.

seven on June 10, 2009 at 3:53 PM

I’d be curious to know how the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are doing.

Ironic, isn’t it, how the NEA endorsed Obama and now those retired Indiana teachers are getting screwed in this Chrysler mess?

Special K on June 10, 2009 at 3:20 PM

He thinks they are not very bright and won’t notice.

seven on June 10, 2009 at 3:54 PM

I wonder how all the unions are doing? They are probably all in the red. SEIU uses the same accounting principles as ACORN does! Just look at this story: .

navyvet48 on June 10, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Look at the accounting ACORN! You shouldn’t be surprised by the SEIU accounting principles either.

http://msplaceddemocrat.com/http:/msplaceddemocrat.com/the-acorn-8-have-some-questions-for-citizens-consulting-inc-cci/

navyvet48 on June 10, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Still kind of tough to buy a Japanese car no matter if it’s made here or not. Every one of the reminds me of a
Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Jeff from WI on June 10, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Which when looked at objectively was one of the finest aircraft produced at the time. Until the F6F Hellcat came out there were signs posted in carrier ready rooms that said, “DO NOT DOGFIGHT WITH A ZERO!”.

I worked for the Japanese for 12 years. With few exceptions I was always treated fairly and with respect. They are for the most part fine people who are very friendly and love this country. I saw many with tears in their eyes when their time here was done and they had to go back to Japan. Quite a few returned to work here again.

Don’t hold Pearl Harbor against this generation of Japanese. It’s the same as those who hold slavery against me and others even though I had nothing to do with it, my family never owned slaves, and they fought for the north to help win their ancestors their freedom.

Kowboy on June 10, 2009 at 5:53 PM

Hmm…Union…Mafia…Fiat A connection?

Jeff from WI on June 10, 2009 at 11:48 AM

You’re on to something methinks.

On a side note: the Japanese have been fairly industrious people (still even with their socialist government… though that’s changing… They’ll need a revolution soon there methinks). Good people usually… sometimes to a fault.

Their cars are prime examples.

Chaz706 on June 10, 2009 at 6:49 PM

How soon will it be until Obama arranges for the unions to get bailed out by us taxpayers?

mydh12 on June 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

SEIU will be bailed out by ‘healthcare reform’. All unions would be bailed out by ‘Card Check’.

Any legislation he has to regulate any business heavily… I’d sniff from now on to see if unions aren’t involved.

Chaz706 on June 10, 2009 at 6:50 PM

i once had the union come to my work place these guys AFL-CIO was right out of the stereo type gangsters mob guys. I joked to fellow employee that the one guy who was taking notes was reminding himself to bust the knee caps or our boss later that day.

Ed Laskie on June 10, 2009 at 9:59 PM

unions = cancer acorn = tumors dems = std’s
some can be cured if detected early.

lasertex on June 10, 2009 at 11:14 PM

Which when looked at objectively was one of the finest aircraft produced at the time. Until the F6F Hellcat came out there were signs posted in carrier ready rooms that said, “DO NOT DOGFIGHT WITH A ZERO!”.

I worked for the Japanese for 12 years. With few exceptions I was always treated fairly and with respect. They are for the most part fine people who are very friendly and love this country. I saw many with tears in their eyes when their time here was done and they had to go back to Japan. Quite a few returned to work here again.

Don’t hold Pearl Harbor against this generation of Japanese. It’s the same as those who hold slavery against me and others even though I had nothing to do with it, my family never owned slaves, and they fought for the north to help win their ancestors their freedom.

Kowboy on June 10, 2009 at 5:53 PM

I’m kiddin’ more than anything else. You’re right about the Hellcat too. Actually I like the Accord & Camry, it’s just hard for a cheapskate like myself, with one kid still borrowing the car all the time to spend $25K when I can get a bigger car, with more power and a better warranty, Sonata for $17K

Jeff from WI on June 10, 2009 at 11:35 PM

Dead media, dead unions.

If only McCain had won.

amkun on June 11, 2009 at 5:31 AM

I’m kiddin’ more than anything else. You’re right about the Hellcat too. Actually I like the Accord & Camry, it’s just hard for a cheapskate like myself, with one kid still borrowing the car all the time to spend $25K when I can get a bigger car, with more power and a better warranty, Sonata for $17K

Jeff from WI on June 10, 2009 at 11:35 PM

I bought a 98 Camry in 2001. Had a 98 Corolla, but my car borrowing kid totaled it for me. Still have the Camry and it’s going strong. Had a 1989 2wd pickup, bit I managed to total that one in 2006. Bought a Scion XB for $16k. Not the most powerful engine, but for it’s size the roomiest car going at the time. As I said, I’m sold on Toyota’s quality. I’ll pay more for it. But that’s from my work experience. I hear Sonata’s are fine cars. Good luck with yours.

Kowboy on June 11, 2009 at 9:22 AM