The Corner

Big Labor Bosses Make Way More than Michigan Workers

It pays big to be a union boss. That’s something to remember as Big Labor leaders decry Michigan’s new right-to-work law. After all, those union dues are supporting their rock-and-roll lifestyles.

About 45 different unions operate in Michigan — and 33 of those unions’ presidents make enough yearly to be considered millionaires by Obama’s definition.

The latest numbers from the Office of Labor Management Standards show that when General President Michael Sullivan retired from the Sheet Metal Workers Association last year, he was drawing $1,043,023 in compensation. That’s around 18 times the amount that sheet workers make in Michigan. Then again, Sullivan’s fat wallet hasn’t stopped him from complaining about “wealthy individuals who broke our economy.”  

Robert Scardelletti of the Transportation Communications International Union made $748,531 last year from his union work. Maybe that six-figure salary was his inspiration when he claimed that “the GOP is out to destroy [American workers’] way of life.”

Meanwhile, the president emeritus — emeritus! — of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers drew $675,780 in 2011. That’s quite a retirement package, at twelve times more than Michigan’s iron workers make in a year.

And then there’s William Hite of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Union. He made $475,166 in 2011, about nine times what Michigan’s plumbers and pipefitters earn a year.

But Newton Jones, international president of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, really takes the cake. In 2011, he got a $607,022 compensation package. Throughout the recession, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers has kept not one but two private planes, and an investigation by the Kansas City Star also found that Boilermakers leaders often receive free cars when they retire. Though Michigan’s boilermakers earn about $67,000 a year, their dues paid for labor bosses like Newton to take cushy vacations including “exclusive pheasant hunting expeditions, fly-fishing adventures in Alaska, stays in Paris and on Marco Island, Fla.” 

No wonder union leaders are freaking out about right-to-work laws in Michigan, especially if they prove contagious. With fewer workers opting to pay dues, Big Labor’s luxury lifestyle could be in jeopardy.

Jillian Kay Melchior — Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

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