Monday, March 1, 2010

Labor Boss Redux: Andy Stern and the SEIU

As a brief follow-up to my post yesterday on the effectiveness and value of union leadership, I was interested to read a story on the website for the San Francisco Bay Guardian regarding leadership elections held for SEIU Local 1021. I think the headline says it all: "SEIU Members Oust the Old Guard."

According to the story, the defeat of the entire slate of candidates put up by SEIU president Andy Stern "was a stunning repudiation of the union leadership." And Stern's candidates didn't just lose; they lost big. The article continues, "In addition, it could roil SEIU's internal politics after a turbulent year, in which Stern created divisive clashes with his own local health care workers, UNITE-HERE, and the California Nurses Association."

A separate article on the website of the Alliance for Worker Freedom also questioned the disparities in the pension funding levels of SEIU workers. According to their analysis, "In 2006, the SEIU National Industry Pension Plan, a plan for rank-and-file SEIU members covering 100,787 workers was 74.9% funded. A separate fund for employees of SEIU had 1,305 participants and was 90.6% funded. The pension fund for SEIU officers and employees had 6,595 members, and was 103.3% funded. This inequity was not always the case. In 1996, the SEIU National Industry Pension Fund had close to 110% of the funds it would need to pay all promised pensions to its workers."

Further, "The problem of poor funding is not only in the national pension plan. Research by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed that 13 SEIU local pension plans were all less than 80% funded. Six of them were less than 65% funded. In 1996, all of them were more than 65% funded, and half were more than 80% funded. While those who were in poor shape back in 1996 are worth significant concern, the Massachusetts Service Employees Pension Fund is perhaps of greater concern. It fell from nearly 110% to 70% funded in 10 years, and the SEIU 1199 Upstate Pension Fund fell from 115% to 75% since its inception in 1999."

Pension plan security for the leadership, and pension plan shortfalls for the rank-and-file members.

So again I ask the question: are union members - in this case the SEIU - really benefitting from their leadership? The folks in San Francisco don't seem to think so, and I wonder if those who are checking their pension coverage feel they are getting the best...

No comments:

Post a Comment