"When times are tough and jobs are few and far between, I think squeezing your members for more money is ridiculous," said SMW member Marc Noreuil in an email.
Others in the union called the raise "excessive" and "inconsiderate" for a local with 600 to 700 members unemployed. People were also surprised by the high amount because dues rose only about $35 the last time contracts were up, one worker said.
- $20,998 on "furniture and equipment"
- $88,011 on automobiles to add to its $174,226 fleet of "automobiles and other vehicles"
- The local's "business manager" brought in $274,705 in total compensation with another $190,903 going to the "financial secretary."
- $185,967 went to the local's "recording secretary"
And then, of course, there were the employees of the local union that were taken care of:
- "Business representatives" took in in 'total comp.' $165,700, $162,667, $165,946, $164,361, $166,183, and $166,242, respectively; while...
- "Organizers" (the union's salesmen) also took in in 'total comp.' $143,530, $138,805 and $120,417, respectively.
- The local even had an office manager that cost the union's members $98,122 in 2008.
But, it doesn't end there. The local also spent:
- $177,309 on legal counsel.
- $11,162 in hotel expenses for a conference in Washington
- $8,014 at Caesar's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (for another conference)
- $13,697 on Disney Reservations (in FL) for yet another conference
- $21,091 to the Chicago Sun Times for "Death Announcements"
- $13,751 for flowers
- $10,745 for jackets and St. Patrick's Day T-Shirts
- $40,154 for Building Maintenance (cleaning services)
- $14,220 to "Steve the Snowman" for snow removal (is this a union snow remover?)
- $6,646 to Build-a-Bear for a Christmas party for members' kids (aaah!)
- $7,141 for caterers for an "executive board meeting" (yum!)
- $21,820 for caterers for a "PIN party" (sounds like the members got stuck with the tab for the pin)
- $24,000 for the local's newsletter (Here's a newsflash: The newsletter probably didn't tell say much about the local's spending habits.)
- $8,657 for more caterers...
- $14,100 for a Christmas party (were the members invited?...Because that seems light for 5,000 [+] members.), and...
- $192,767 went to the union's officers and staff retirement fund.
Meanwhile, the local is telling its members that their dues could increase from $337 to $562 per quarter, or from $1348 per year to $2248.
Perhaps, instead of taking more from their members (600 to 700 of whom are unemployed), the union bosses might cut back on their expenses like any other business would.
Just a thought.
"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
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