Politics & Policy

Union Bosses’ Hypocrisy

Joe Biden and Robert A. Scardelletti, international president of the Transportation Communications Union
They live in luxury while complaining of hard-hearted Republicans and CEOs.

The leaders of America’s unions have been very vocal lately in their criticism of Republicans and of business. According to them, Republicans care only about the wealthy and are unfairly targeting the workers of America with their reforms. These union leaders insist that only they can speak for regular Americans. In fact, their own salaries suggest that they have nothing in common with the average citizen. Here is a short list of some of the highest-earning, and most hypocritical, union presidents:

Michael J. Sullivan, general president of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association

Salary: $1,043,023

Make no mistake, after having bailed out the big Wall Street banks, these Republican governors and legislators want to give tax breaks to the same big banks and wealthy individuals who broke our economy. They let Big Business off the budgetary hook, while they gut our pensions to pay the bill and eviscerate our right to stand together as workers.

If Mr. Sullivan is truly worried about his union’s pension plan, maybe he shouldn’t collect such a lavish salary?

Robert A. Scardelletti, international president of the Transportation Communications Union

Salary: $748,531

Robert Scardelletti hates the fact that the budget proposed by Paul Ryan requires a revamping of the bloated railroad pension system:

As railroad workers and retirees, we understand that those benefits are completely funded by the taxes we and railroad employers pay. But that doesn’t matter to the Republican majorities who voted for this. All they see is a chance to target yet another group of workers in the name of budget austerity. Why let facts stand in the way?

Yes, those evil Republicans are always attacking poor workers for fun . . . It’s hard to accept a man as the voice of the oppressed when he’s making such an abundant amount of money.

Newton B. Jones, president of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers

Salary: $607,022

Newton Jones doesn’t think highly of the Republican party’s leadership:

Do we want a leader who is dedicated to cutting Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment benefits while protecting the assets of the wealthy? Do we want a leader of the free world who is committed to destroying unions and repressing worker rights?

Jones acceded to the leadership of the Boilermakers upon his father’s retirement, which suggests a bit of nepotism. It’s difficult to accept his views on assets when his own are so large.

Terence M. O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America

Salary: $589,124

Get ready for corporate America’s favorite game: blame the victim. As pundits address the various reasons for the American auto industry’s problems a frequent target won’t be bloated CEO salaries, a lack of executive accountability, or a flawed business plan. The target will be the men and women who go to work every day doing the best job they can

Really? Bloated CEO salaries? If Mr. O’Sullivan feels so deeply about the issue, then perhaps he should return 90 percent of his own income to the union. I’m sure the men and women who go to work every day would appreciate it.

John T. Niccollai, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 464A

Salary: $532,752

In February, Mr. Niccollai explained the reasons for the recession as he tried to rally his union members against renegotiating their contract to save their jobs:

No segment of American society is immune from the devastating incompetence of the prior Republican administration and the amoral corporate greed that brought our economy to its knees.

Yet while his local union, in order to lessen job losses, eventually did accept a pay cut, along with a freeze on wages for five years and fewer days off, Mr. Niccollai decided to raise his own salary by $14,000. Who was lecturing on greed again?

Gerald McEntee, international president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

Salary: $512,369

[Republicans] ignore the damage done to the middle class as CEO pay skyrocketed 300 percent since 1990 and corporate profits doubled. These are the candidates of the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, and by the 1 percent. If they have their way, Mitt Romney and the wealthiest people in America won’t have to release their tax returns. They won’t even have to file.

Mr. McEntee’s salary places him firmly in the 1 percent of Americans earning over $350,000 a year. Whereas a corporate CEO earns at least a portion of his salary for building a company that returns wealth to its employees and shareholders, for what reason does Mr. McEntee earn such a substantial figure?

Nathaniel Botwinick is an editorial intern at National Review.

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