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Tea & union's Kool-Aid

| Monday, Oct. 4, 2010

The Service Employees International Union is protesting the tea party movement. If SEIU members had any sense, they'd be demonstrating at their own bosses' D.C. headquarters.

It's the big labor left, not the tea party right, that is flushing rank-and-file union workers' hard-earned dues down the collective toilet in these hard times.

The co-organizer of last Saturday's so-called "One Nation" protest in Washington by a coalition of progressive groups is George Gresham, president of the behemoth SEIU Local 1199 based in New York. Peeved by all the attention that grassroots conservatives and limited-government activists have received over the past year, Gresham wants to "counter the tea party narrative" and reclaim the voice for "working people."

Gresham should pay more attention to his workers' pensions than to tea party leaders' media appearances.

SEIU Local 1199's Upstate Pension Fund has plunged from 115 percent funded in 1999 to 75 percent funded, and its Greater New York Pension Fund was funded at only 58 percent of its future obligations as of 2007, according to Hudson Institute analyst Diana Furchtgott-Roth. Union fat cats blame Wall Street. But while the pensions of SEIU workers nationwide are in "endangered status," the pensions of SEIU top brass have been protected and remain fully funded.

The D.C.-based Alliance for Worker Freedom, which monitors labor union abuses, reported last year that 13 major local SEIU pension funds are in serious financial jeopardy. Indeed, fewer than one in every 160 union-represented workers is covered by a union pension with required assets.

SEIU leaders have shown a special talent for squandering their workers' dues. They poured $10 million down the drain in Arkansas on a failed bid to unseat Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln. They spent $10 million on a nasty lawsuit against a competing union in California. They've burned through union dues to transport SEIU radicals to bully bank execs and their families at their private homes and to bus workers to Arizona to protest crackdowns on illegal aliens.

Under former Purple Army chief Andy Stern, the union's liabilities skyrocketed from $7.6 million to nearly $121 million. Stern burned through $61 million to put Barack Obama and the Democrat ruling majority in place. And before abruptly stepping down in April, he installed a cadre of labor management stooges embroiled in financial scandals across the country.

One of them, Stern protege and former SEIU national Vice President Tyrone Freeman, remains under FBI investigation for siphoning off hundreds of thousands of dollars in dues money for his personal enrichment and pleasure. The Los Angeles Times uncovered schemes that ranged from piping $600,000 in union contracts to his wife's video production and entertainment ventures to paying his mother-in-law $8,000 a month to baby-sit his daughter and other union employees' children.

Now, Stern's profligate successors will steer an estimated $44 million in union worker dues into Democrat coffers this November -- all in the name of defeating right-wing enemies of the working people. Perhaps it's time for rank-and-file workers to stage a tea party of their own.

Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2009).

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