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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Union Leaders' Pay

The Center for Public Integrity reports that the compensation of union leaders could create political difficulties:

The Center for Public Integrity found compensation for leaders of the 10 largest unions ranged from $173,000 at the United Auto Workers to $618,000 at the Laborers’ International Union of North America and almost $480,000 for the president of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees. The latter is the target of GOP governors in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Kansas.

“What’s very clear to union leaders is the huge threat this poses for the organizations they have built,” said John C. McAdams, political science professor at Marquette University in Wisconsin.


The union reports, filed with the Department of Labor, show that assets of the various labor unions run into the hundreds of millions of dollars and payrolls rival midsized companies. Among the Top 10 unions, dozens of top officials have salaries and benefits that rank them among the top percentage of income-earners in the country.

Although well-paid by most standards, McAdams acknowledged that a pay disparity exists between most union leaders and their members. He added that their income pales in comparison to corporate executives.

“Union leaders today are not really from the working class, and their incomes are not so high that they’re making out like bandits,” he said.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was the only union that returned the Center’s phone calls and emails requesting comment on this story. Jim Spellane, director of media communications, said, “Our union president makes about what some of the highest paid workers in the union make. We’re proud that our leadership comes out of rank and file, people who worked in the trade.”

Union compensation is still a fraction of that paid to heads of Washington’s big trade associations. John Castellani of the Business Roundtable had a compensation package of $1.4 million in 2009 and Thomas J. Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made $3.7 million. Castellani has since departed.