Union bosses make hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, new report shows

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

A new report from the left-leaning Center for Public Integrity (CPI) shows union bosses would stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal salaries and Democrats would lose millions of dollars in campaign donations if governors in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states win their budget battles. The new CPI report calls into question union bosses’ and Democratic lawmakers’ true motives in those states, showing that they’re possibly more concerned about losing revenue and personal salary than they are with collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

Salaries for the 10 largest unions’ bosses range from $173,000 for the United Auto Workers’ Bob King to $618,000 for Terence O’Sullivan, the president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka makes about $283,000 per year. Gerald McEntee, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), makes $480,000. The AFSCME stands to lose the most from any of the governors’ budget victories, as it’s currently the nation’s powerhouse public sector union, with around 1.5 million members nationwide.

McEntee maintains that this fight is about collective bargaining and giving workers rights, even though he’s making much more money than most of his union’s members nationwide and his salary has increased by about 4 percent annually.

“All of us need to make our voices heard in the coming days,” McEntee wrote in the Huffington Post. “We need to make it clear to the politicians that their own perks and salaries should be cut before they take a cleaver to the wages, benefits and rights of working men and women.”

The unions collect revenue from union dues, which, more often than not, workers are required to pay because of labor laws. So, workers are paying these salaries for their union bosses. That’s the source of revenue for political donations as well, and if Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other governors win their budget battles, the unions would not raise as much money through union dues, which would, by extension, mean they couldn’t donate as much to Democrats.

The AFSCME has been raising the amount of money it spends on political activism steadily for years.

“As membership in AFSCME has grown, so has its political activism and political spending,” the CPI report states. “AFSCME spent $90 million in the 2010 elections, and most of that went to Democratic candidates and affiliated organizations.”