The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the biggest boys on the Big Labor block (they spent nearly $1 million in 2006 just on Colorado’s elections), has taken a one-two punch today. It doesn’t look good for them.
First, the Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF) is urging the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate SEIU’s pension funding scheme. AWF’s Brian Johnson writes at National Review about SEIU’s pension hypocrisy:
Unions often champion themselves as protecting rank-and-file workers from corporate greed and malfeasance. Yet DB pension plans, managed by union officers, are often plagued by insolvency, threatening to leave members with little in retirement.
For example, the SEIU National Industry Pension Fund â€” which covers the majority of the unionâ€™s rank-and-file workers â€” has assets of about $2.8 billion, or $19,000 per participant. For the record, this amount will cover only 56 percent of more than $5 billion in current liabilities. In short, the plan is underfunded. Conversely, the pension plan for SEIU officers has a current funded liability of 108 percent, with assets of nearly $81,000 per participant. The great disparity between these plans exists despite the fact that both are invested in one combined master trust.
How can this be? For one, between 1996 and 2006, the SEIU paid investment advisors roughly $35 million to steer pension money towards projects requiring union-only contracts. The trustâ€™s return on investment during this time was more than 200 basis points below that of the S&P 500, for a loss of more that [sic] $8,500 per worker.
SEIU leaders not only are looking out for themselves a lot better than they’re looking out for the members they’re supposed to represent, but also plan to inflict the same damage on an even wider scale by “taking back the economy”.
Meanwhile, the National Right to Work Foundation (NRTW) has called for federal investigations into SEIU’s new political fundraising scheme – a scheme that appears to violate federal law by putting general dues money (possibly including coercive non-member fees) into political action funds:
Union officials have devoted enormous sums of money to influence the upcoming fall elections. Because the SEIUâ€™s political contributions are so significant, Foundation attorneys believe that this amendment has the potential to irreparably compromise the integrity of the electoral process. By coercing local affiliates and nonmember employees into contributing to the SEIUâ€™s massive general election fund, union officials threaten to disenfranchise voters with a firestorm of illegally funded political activism.
In the letter to Attorney General Mukasey, [NRTW president Mark] Mix writes for the Foundation: â€œNot only are large numbers of employees (forced to fill SEIU coffers) harmed by this crime, but, given the close vote in recent national elections, the illegal SEIU activity effectively disenfranchises voters who follow the lawâ€¦ To protect the rights of workers forced to pay compulsory dues and fees, and the integrity of the November elections, I trust you will act upon this informationâ€¦â€
Taken together, it looks like SEIU leaders (who by virtue of working closely with Gov. Bill Ritter have acted like owners of state property and have helped to introduce collective bargaining to Colorado state government) are carelessly fleecing their members to boost their political clout and to attack the general economic welfare. And it seems even the law itself is a victim of their ambition. For the sake of economic health, worker pensions, and honest elections, let’s hope thorough and prompt investigations are soon underway.