Unions Underfunding Their Own Members' Pensions, Study Says

A few days ago I posted a story on a recent article in the New York Sun by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow at The Hudson Institute, that focused on how the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had not fully funded the pension plan of their rank and file members while they had over funded the pension plan of the Union’s chief officers.

Well, today at noon (CT) I was included as part of a conference call on the pending release of the full study upon which that earlier article in the Sun was based, written by by Diana Furchtgott-Roth. This study reviews 21 — the SEIU included — of the largest unions in the country to see where pension solvency stood in general. The results are shocking.

The Hudson study found that by 2005, the last full year of reports filed, 21 of the nation’s biggest unions show that their rank and file members’ pensions are only funded at an appalling 67.7%. Conversely, the pension funds of the union bosses are funded at a much better 88.3%. So, the union bosses — all of who have a separate pension fund than their own rank and file members — have made sure THEIR pensions are funded at a much higher rate than that of their own members. Needless to say, the union bosses administer both their own and the rank and file members’ funds.

The SEIU is particularly egregious in that the union bosses have a pension funded at 103% while to poor rank and file members are only at a paltry 75% funded.

For their part, the SEIU in particular claims that the Hudson Institute numbers are off and that the 2005 numbers no longer apply. The SEIU claims that they have improved their pension status since then and fault the study from Hudson as old news. They also said that those 2005 numbers weren’t correct in any case.

In reply to that criticism during the conference call, Diana Furchtgott-Roth said that the 2005 numbers are the most current numbers on file with the Federal government and that the various unions have not fulfilled their reporting requirements for any more up to date information. (On that note, I have to say this is a situation that is intolerable. These unions are dragging their feet in the reporting duties to the Gov’t, duties that are mandated by law. Also, these reporting requirements are something that Barack Obama has pledged to try to eliminate for his union supporters should he become president. If it were up to Obama the unions wouldn’t have to disclose anything!)

Diana Furchtgott-Roth did ask a pertinent question about the SEIU’s reported 2005 pension numbers. The SEIU claims the numbers did not reflect the pension fund status even in 2005, as mentioned. This caused Furchtgott-Roth to wonder why the SEIU reported fraudulent numbers on their required report to the Feds? It seems unlikely that they would have violated Federal law and supplied false numbers. We can but take their report at face value.

In any case, the Hudson Institute will unveil the full report tomorrow so that we might all take a look at their stats.

One thing that the study does show, however, is that the unions care a lot about the pensions of their own high officers but not very much about that of the poor rank and file membership.

Be sure and Visit my Home blog Publius’ Forum. It’s what’s happening NOW!