Hefty salaries, perks for union leaders raise eyebrows; Stay Connected
By Judy L. Thomas | McClatchy Newspapers
KANSAS CITY, Mo.— First-class travel. Six-figure salaries for half the 132 officers and staffers. Plenty of plum jobs for family members.
Life is good at the top of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.
The union, with its headquarters in Kansas City, Kan., represents about 59,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada who make and repair boilers, fit pipes and work on ships and power plants. The recession has hit their trade hard, reducing union membership.
At the same time, the president’s salary has surged 67 percent in the past six years, not counting a recent raise. Add in travel and some other expenses, and Newton B. Jones received more than $600,000 last year, putting him at the absolute top of the , according to the most recent financial reports filed by the organizations.
“This is one of the more egregious examples of money flowing like crazy that I’ve ever seen,” said Nathan Mehrens, a former U.S. Labor Department lawyer and now general counsel for Americans for Limited Government, a conservative watchdog group.
In an interview, two union spokesmen defended the spending and hiring practices before requesting other questions in writing. Although they did not respond to every question, Michael Stapp, the union’s general counsel, provided a written response that included praise for the Boilermakers.
“The Boilermaker family of organizations, together valued at over $10 billion, has proudly represented the interests of hundreds of thousands of working men and women for over 130 years,” Stapp wrote.
“The history of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers clearly demonstrates that they operate in strict accordance with all applicable laws and governing documents. They operate in much the same manner as most other labor organizations.”
Attempts to reach rank-and-file union members for comment were unsuccessful. But rumbles of discontent are sometimes felt.
In April, an anonymous letter, mailed purportedly by Boilermakers members and obtained by The Kansas City Star, sharply criticized union leaders.
“While members and their families struggle to make it through this recession, our IBB (International Brotherhood of Boilermakers) are a mere 5 percent the size of the Teamsters union. Yet which president received more in total disbursements from their unions last year — Teamsters President James P. Hoffa or the lesser-known Newton B. Jones?
Jones by more than $200,000.
Jones received $607,022 in total disbursements, compared with $372,489 for Hoffa.
Total disbursements include salary and business expenses, especially travel, which a union spokesman said made up most of Jones’ expenses.
Jones’ salary in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2011, was $307,134 — also more than Hoffa. The figures come from annual reports the unions file with the Labor Department.
Jones’ total disbursements also are more than double those of Richard Trumka, head of the powerful AFL-CIO, a federation of national and international unions with 11.6 million members. Trumka received total disbursements of $293,750.
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/05/13/148607/...