After 30 years at the helm of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), President Gerald McEntee is retiring. He has overseen this, the largest of the unions representing government workers for an entire generation. Apparently, there’s job security in being the head of a union – unless you’re Jimmy Hoffa.
Not only is there job security, the pay isn’t bad either. Mr. McEntee is earning just shy of $400,000 per year. There are a lot of CEO’s of corporations who would drool at that salary. But, I guess, since it’s a union and not a for profit corporation that’s okay with those in OWS and among people with similar mindsets.
Mr. McEntee has endorsed one of the two candidates, the union’s Secretary-Treasurer, Lee Saunders who undoubtedly aspires to equaling his bud McEntee’s record of generational leadership. No doubt he will continue to accept the same salary and continue Mr. McEntee’s practice of taking private jets here and there on matters of union business. (Did someone say, “Isn’t that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s preferred method of travel?”)
Pitted against Mr. Saunders in this contest for union supremacy is Mr. Danny Donohue, the head of AFSCME’s New York branch. Mr. Donohue is campaigning as a reformer – offering to accept a reduction in salary and promising to take commercial plane flights. As a person who’s tax contributions indirectly pay for those items, I am hoping that Mr. Donohue can carry it off.
Perhaps that last statement confuses you – so allow me to explain.
Unions have one (legal) source of funds. (Disregard that last sentence if you’ve seen the movie, “On The Waterfront”). It’s called the dues their members pay in to be a unionist. Now in the case of a union representing workers in the private sector, these come out of the pockets of the members. But the case is different when we are talking about government employees. We the people are the ones who are paying these because it is we who ultimately share the burden of providing both for the income and welfare of these individuals.
Mr. McEntee and his cohorts in the other public unions have done their job quite well on behalf of their members (and all of us who pay any kind of federal, state or municipal tax should be given credit for this achievement). The current average benefits package for these employees now exceeds $44,000 per year – and you and I, my fellow American taxpayers are footing the bill.
Of course, what AFSCME does is more or less up to its members – in theory. I hope that no external influence is brought to bear over this election. But it does give me pause when I think that the union is supposedly going to “donate” to the re-election campaign of President Obama and other Democratic worthies to the tune of approximately $100 million. So those of you who were thinking about sending President BHO a check for $3 or so to get him re-elected needn’t bother. It’s being done for you.
Mr. Saunders, if he is successful, would also be the first African-American president of AFSCME – but I hope that we have laid the issue of race to rest as a BFOQ. (That’s government-speak for Bona Fide Occupational Qualification). At least the intelligent voters I know have done so.
I shall watch the election with interest to see whether AFSCME subscribes to the philosophy espoused by the late 43rd Ward Alderman, Paddy Bauler when he said, “Chicago ain’t ready for reform,” or whether they follow a more inspired path. I’m sure you will be watching too.
After all, it’s our tax dollars “at work”.