Friday, 11 January 2013

Are the days of keeping folks in the dark coming to an end?


                                                    Employees Demanding Change?

Dear Readers,
Considering the loud demand from Canadian employees for better union 
financial accountability leading to the private members Bill C-377 that 
passed in our House of Commons and is presently before our senate so 
today, I bring you verbatim, an article by Luke Rosiak of the Washington 
Times about 'Union bosses’ salaries put ‘big’ in Big Labor'. My response 
is below that followed by space for your comment, if you choose although 
I am finding my email box filling up 'big time' these days so please keep 
your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and 
keep your language decent...
There can be riches in standing up for the working class: The 
Boilermakers union president earned $506,000, plus hundreds of thousands 
of dollars more for travel expenses, while the Laborers union president 
made $441,000. The Transportation Communications Union leader made $300,000, 
bumped up to $750,000 with business expenses. Patrick W. Flynn makes $435,000 
a year in his capacity as treasurer of a 13,600-member Teamsters union local, 
and the $30,000 in business expenses he collects on top of costs associated 
with carrying out his duties around Mokena, Ill., approach that of a typical 
worker’s entire salary.
The average union member has no idea how much the leaders make, said Stanley 
Oubre, a retired Boilermaker in Louisiana — and can hardly relate. “It sounds 
like we’re getting robbed,” Mr. Oubre said of the money earned by International 
Brotherhood of Boilermakers President Newton B. Jones. “I was a boilermaker for 
35 years, and oh, my goodness, what we made was pennies” compared with that. Over 
the past decade, top union officials’ compensation has risen even though
membership has fallen, and the unions have added significantly more employees to 
their offices.
Joseph V. Senese was paid $591,346 last year for his role in running the National 
Production Workers Union, based in the golf course-lined Chicago suburbs, which 
reported 600 members in 2006 and none in 2007, according to union disclosures. 
Tax records confirm a pattern of high salaries, with base compensation of $583,000
in 2008, and show that Mr. Senese, in turn, issued hundreds of thousands of 
dollars in cash loans back to the union. For decades, the union spent “large sums 
of money” to provide Mr. Senese with around-the-clock security after his brother 
and father, also union honchos, survived assassination attempts and federal 
authorities barred his father from union activity for life, alleging mob ties, 
according to a 1993 Chicago Tribune article.
“We don’t talk to newspaper reporters. Don’t call back here,” a staffer at the 
union’s full-time office said last week before hanging up the phone. John M. 
Lazzaretto, business manager of Local 152 of the Laborers International Union of 
North America in Highland Park, Ill., was paid $419,543. The 1,000-member union 
local counted Mr. Lazzaretto’s son, Michael, as an organizer, and his cousin, 
Vallie, as secretary, and a Brennan Lazzaretto as janitor. “A big portion of that
final salary was a retirement package. My salary probably averaged about $250,000,
which for a business manager, I was probably top three or four. There’s probably 
three or four people in the Chicago area making more than $300,000. Of course, 
times have changed; people get rid of the heavy earners,” Mr. Lazzaretto said.
“I was the only trustee left after the feds came in, when the government put a 
consent decree over the whole international union alleging there was ties to 
organized crime,” he said. “I came out with a clean bill of health.” Despite 
unions’ focus on income equality, the division between the highest-paid and 
lowest-paid union employees has grown over time, and the rank-and-file workers 
toiling in factories and construction sites that the union officers represent 
especially pale in comparison with the top officials tasked with representing
In 2000, the bottom quarter of full-time employees at union offices, such as 
administrative assistants at headquarters, made less than $33,900, while the top 
quarter made more than $65,400. In 2011, the bottom quarter made $45,000 compared 
with $89,800 for the top quarter. Among reports for fiscal 2012 submitted so far, 
the bottom quarter made $49,700 compared with $103,100 for the top quarter, an 
analysis of union disclosures by The Washington Times indicated. Don Loos, a
former Department of Labor official who is now an adviser at the National Right to
Work Committee, said labor leaders with compensation that is worlds apart from 
those they are representing make it difficult for them to empathize with life in 
the trenches. “Look at SEIU: That’s a union of janitors, and you’ve got people at 
the top making $500,000 a year, plus a lot of them have their hands in more
than one till — they’re making additional money from the pension funds. A lot of 
these groups were a part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and they really 
pushed the notion of ‘fat cats,’ but union bosses have always been fat cats,” he 
Union dues sometimes finance seemingly luxury items for officers. The Internal 
Brotherhood of Teamsters held its annual Employee Benefits Program conference in 
Hawaii in 2010, while in 2008, the American Postal Workers Union sent its 
secretary-treasurers to Puerto Rico for training. In 2007, the Teamsters spent 
$55,000 on gourmet steaks for stewards, while the Ohio Association of Public 
School Employees held an executive board meeting at Morton’s Steakhouse at a cost 
of $9,400 in 2008. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has yearly 
“golf outings,” often at a cost of $30,000. In 2005, the Pennsylvania Public 
Employees Union paid $15,000 for “education of officers” at Fernwood Resort and 
Country Club.
Last year, the United Steelworkers spent $1.1 million on catering on top of $1 
million for lodging and other costs at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for its annual 
convention in August, for which 3,000 officials flew out. In 2009, the United Food
and Commercial Workers International Union spent $574,000 on “executive board
meeting/lodging” at Buena Vista Palace, a Disney World golf resort. Until recent 
years, a handful of unions had private jets to ferry officials to meetings in 
style. The International Union of Bricklayers, until at least 2011, owned a plane,
but “shortly after James Boland became president in February 2010, the 
international executive board grounded the plane and put it on the market, where 
it remained for a number of months owing to an excess of similar planes for sale. 
It was sold in February 2012,” Connie Lambert, the Bricklayers’ communications 
director, said in an email.
J. Justin Wilson, managing director of the Center for Union Facts, a union-
watchdog group, said spending of members’ dues on officers’ perks represented a 
conflict of interest because “the board of the union has the fiduciary 
responsibility.” “There have been more than a few instances of labor leaders 
living high on the hog at the expense of their members,” he said. Those excesses 
occur in the corporate world, too, but as nonprofits, “technically they are 
beholden to the taxpayers. In exchange for not paying taxes, there’s a greater 
degree of responsibility.” Even as memberships dropped, union overhead became
more bulky, with the number of organizers and other employees working in private-
sector union offices rising from 41,000 in 2000 to 47,000 in 2011, after peaking 
at 51,000 in 2008. Total salaries, adjusted to 2011 dollars, rose from $4.4 
billion to $4.7 billion over the past decade.
The Air Line Pilots Association spent more than $36 million on wages in 2011 for 
324 staffers, or $617 for each of its 58,874 members.The California Nurses 
Association has 86,000 members and spent $25 million on 338 staffers, 124 of whom 
have six-figure incomes. The United Auto Workers, with 380,000 members, spent $83 
million on salaries for 886 employees, 508 of whom made six figures. Officers of 
small, little-scrutinized locals were sometimes paid on par with their peers in 
much bigger organizations. The Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 52 in Seattle 
has only 139 members, but its treasurer, David Black, was paid $206,000, and its 
president, Glen Anderson, made $196,000, according to disclosures.
No union had more members working in the home office, rather than in the 
factories, than the Steelworkers, which employs 974 people, half at six figures, 
in its national headquarters. The Steelworkers union has 600,000 members. Yet its 
president, Leo Gerard, made only $195,000 — meaning officials like Mr. Anderson, 
Mr. Black and Mr. Lazzaretto made more for running unions a fraction of the size. 
Those salaries are financed largely, of course, by dues paid by members, and the
average dues paid to a local by each member rose to $401 in 2011, up from $272 in 
2000, or $355 in inflation-adjusted dollars. But some dues were far steeper than 
others. Boilermakers Local 154 raised its dues from 4 percent to 7 percent of 
wages over the past five years, for example.
Few national unions pay their leaders more per member than the Longshoremen’s 
Association, a 43,500-member organization that spends $10 million a year on staff,
paying President Harold Daggett $436,600 and Secretary-Treasurer Robert E. Gleason
and Vice President Benny Holland Jr. $401,000 each. They are old hands and long-
accustomed to such pay. In 2005, tax records show, Mr. Gleason was making 
$430,000, Mr. Daggett was making $303,000 as an organizer and Mr. Holland was
making $287,000. All estimated that they worked only 20 hours a week. Many 
Longshoremen’s Associations deduct 10 percent of workers’ pay, as do many Iron 
Workers locals. Some chapters of the International Association of Heat and Frost 
Insulators and Asbestos Workers deduct up to $4.17 per hour, while locals within 
the International Union of Elevator Constructors take up to $626 a quarter.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some dues for members of the United 
Brotherhood of Carpenters are as low as one-half of 1 percent, and the figure for 
some locals of Unite Here, a union of 265,000 hotel, food service, laundry, 
warehouse and casino workers, is 1 percent. Some with lower dues managed to 
decrease the financial burden by cutting overhead. Tampa, Fla.’s American Postal 
Workers Local 259 lowered working dues from $38 to $26 per month as the 12,500-
member union trimmed staff from 23 to five in the past decade. Iron Workers Local 
44 raised dues from 6 percent to 10 percent, then managed to drop them to 4 
percent by “consolidating two offices into one,” business manager Jason Mullins 
The amount of funding that goes toward representation — activities like 
negotiating or enforcing contracts — has remained steady at a bit less than one-
fifth of unions’ outlays. But many locals consistently spend far less. The 
Carpenters Union Local 630, for example, collected $382,000 in dues in 2011 and 
spent only $170 on representation. At the same time, it spent a quarter-million 
dollars on “overhead” and “administration.” Bill Butler, corporate communications 
executive of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, said a $1 million
payout to retiring official Michael J. Sullivan was a one-time thing. “When he 
retired, he got a lump sum. That was part of a payment he was entitled to, and no 
one else is going to receive it,” he said.
Other unions justified high salaries for officers by likening them to CEOs of 
large corporations. Galen Munroe, a spokesman for the Teamsters union, said it was
on the members to take action if they deem salaries too high. “This is public 
information, and it’s the members’ prerogative with this information in hand to 
vote officers in or out,” Mr. Munroe said.
                             This is called work!
my response............
I recall much hand-wringing from the labour apologists when the Ontario Ministry 
of Labour released its initial union officials' salary disclosure list. Under 
legislation passed while Ontario was under Mike Harris's watch, unions with 
offices in Ontario were required to publicly disclose compensation paid to 
officials whose annual salaries and taxable benefits totaled $100,000 or more. 
According to a report in the Toronto Star, the number of Big Earners was up from
260 to 299 in just one year! Unfortunately, the McGuinty Liberals repealed the 
law in 2005 as the Harris "disclosure requirements failed to promote productive 
labour relations nor did they provide any value-added accountability to union 
members", according to Ontario Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey in a letter to every 
member of the Senate, as reported by Jonathan Jenkins of the Toronto Sun on 
January 11, 2013 in the Toronto Sun. Further urging the Senate to turn down a 
controversial federal bill that would force unions to disclose their salaries and 
other financial details, Ms. Jeffrey believes Bill C-377 is "inexplicably 
intrusive, unnecessarily provocative and an unwarranted interference with the 
collective bargaining process in Canada that substantively interferes with and 
impedes the internal administration and operations of unions and is not grounded 
on defensible labour relations practice or policy."

Our Present leader?

But MP Russ Hiebert, who representing South Surrey - White Rock - Cloverdale and
sponsored Bill C-377 has said unions should disclose the information because 
their dues are tax deductible. By sending the letter however, Pierre Poilievre, 
parliamentary secretary to the federal transport minister, accused Jeffrey of 
"taking orders from union bosses after a decade of union-dominated government, 
raised taxes on families and job creators and doubled the province's debt, and are
now interfering with a federal bill that would bring union transparency."
                            Tim Hudak, our Future leader?
"Limiting the power of unions will create jobs and improve efficiency," insisted 
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. "We want to make sure that 
people that want to get out of the public service unions, they have the ability to
do so," adding he wants to "unshackle union members so workers have the right to 
opt out of a union and open up public sector hiring to any qualified candidate, 
not just union members."

                      Is this what union dues are supporting?
While many employees have been shocked and dismayed with union involvement at G20 
riots and various civil disobedience events, many mainstream labour leaders 
in Ontario have been harshly critical of Bill C-377 disclosure legislation which 
will enable additional transparency thereby threatening involvement and maybe 
preventing union support for dubious, and possibly even nefarious causes. Today
in Canada, tax exempt labour organizations, including unions are not required to 
make public their financial affairs, according to the Canadian LabourWatch 
Association, a worker-advocacy group. This is in contrast to countries, like 
France and the United States that have public union disclosure as a result of 
union leadership in seeking and supporting it. Numerous other nations such as 
Germany and Australia also have public union financial disclosure. But not until 
Nanos Research State of the Unions 2011 survey found that 83% of working
Canadians support financial disclosure for public and private sector unions did 
the taxpayer think there was much support, so thankfully those days of keeping 
folks in the dark are coming to a end as Bill C-377 extends the principle of 
charities publically reporting financial information (to the Minister of National 
Revenue) to a group of institutions that also enjoy substantial public benefits - 
labour organizations (including unions).
                           Don't these folks have jobs?
The Federal Finance Department's 2010 estimate for the union dues deduction 
represents hundreds of millions in foregone tax revenue on billions of dollars in 
dues, investment income and union training centre profits because dues are 100% 
deductible from Federal taxable income as unionized Canadians who pay dues can 
deduct those dues from their taxable income. Dues are almost always a “condition 
of employment” and employees who do not pay them can be fired from their jobs, a 
possibility sanctioned by labour codes. Strike pay is also not taxable income but 
union tax and legal privileges far exceed that of charities or any other set of 
organizations in Canada. Unions transfer dues to local, provincial and national 
umbrella labour organizations. Labour organization investment income is not taxed 
federally. Provinces may have different approaches to the tax treatment of dues,
investment income and other types of revenue.
Folks just want to work!

The basic premise of this Bill C-377 is that every labour organization in Canada 
will file a standard set of financials each year, which will then be made 
available to Canadians on a public website, likely similar to the current 
Charities Directorate website. Labour organizations are exempt from taxation and 
this Bill will allow all Canadians to see how tax deductible monies are being 
spent by these tax exempt organizations. With the financial information the Bill 
will require, the public will be empowered to better gauge the effectiveness, 
financial integrity and health of Canada's taxation system as it relates to the 
privileges granted to labour organizations (including unions). Unionized workers 
who pay dues will be able to dov the same. This legislation is good for unionized 
Canadians by enabling them to see how their dues are spent as well as their 
union's revenue regardless of whether or not they are an actual union member. The
public is always better served by increased transparency and accountability and 
the Bill C-377 simply extends that principle to labour organizations.
                            Once Bill C-377 become law?
Private Members Bill (PMB) Bill C-377 began its journey through Canada's Federal 
Parliament on September 29, 2011 as Private Members Bill C-317. C-317 was approved
by the House Subcommittee on Private Members' Business (SMEM) in October 2011, but
later rejected by the Speaker in response to a NDP procedural challenge. A major 
public sector union (PIPSC) later told the media that they had helped the NDP
figure out how to stop the Bill. C-317 was revised in accordance with the 
Speaker’s ruling and returned to Parliament as Bill C-377. Both Bills were 
sponsored by MP Russ Hiebert who represents South Surrey - White Rock - 

 bio at
twitter chatter....
Are employees demanding change? Days of keeping folks in the dark coming to a end?...

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