Union leaders are self-serving; Pensions are the story

Here’s a lesson that you will hear again and again. Union leaders take care of themselves before their workers. From today’s WSJ:

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%.

The bosses, on the other hand, have over-capitalized pensions:

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.

You might need more than 100% if, say, the stock market were to suffer for a couple of years.

Andy Stern, however, has figured out a way to cook the books based on a formula that is not even in effect:

The SEIU is now disputing some of these figures, claiming the information it publicly filed is wrong. It now claims its national plan was 92% funded in 2006, and as of January 1, 2008, was 96% funded. Here’s the catch: The union says these new numbers are based on calculations required under a 2006 pension reform that hasn’t yet taken effect. It didn’t release its new math either, though we’re eager to see it.

In general, union pensions are a sleeper issue. It is part of the story behind Card Check. It is an untold story in the UAW-GM agreement. And it is always the same story: union bosses paying them and their buddies off and shafting their workers.