Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

It Pays To Be The (Union) Boss

It’s no mystery that labor union leaders are paid well. But a closer look at the numbers are still astounding.

The Washington Times has the full report today, compiled from information available at The article, which features our managing director, J. Justin Wilson, details how union leadership spends millions of member dues on themselves.

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.

Some of the salaries top half-a-million dollars per year. And in relation to the size of the unions (most of which are shrinking) the staff costs seem to keep growing. Union leaders want to maintain their luxurious lifestyle, and they do it on the backs of their fellow union members. How? By increasing the costs of dues:

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.

This practice is problematic, according to Wilson:

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.”

Categories: Center for Union FactsUnfair ShareUnion Math