Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Huge taxpayer funded Union Pension Bailout in Lame Duck?

Unions have known for years that their multiemployer pension plans have unfunded liabilities that could run hundreds of billions of dollars.

That's why unions have been loath to accurately report their pension liabilities -- requiring transparency could devastate whole industries as banks and creditors will likely refuse to lend money to companies on the hook for such outrageous pension obligations.
Fortunately for them, it's much cheaper for unions to buy the White House and Congress than to fund their pensions properly. Even by their normally profligate standards, unions went for broke in 2008, spending $400 million electing Democrats. In 2010, "Democrats are relying more than ever this year on another outside force to help even the playing field: organized labor," reports the New York Times.

Despite being beholden, Democrats have been unable to enact the two laws unions most desire.
Democrats pushed hard but unsuccessfully for Card Check. That legislation would remove the secret ballot in union elections. By making union votes public, labor organizers would know who to target and intimidate in order to pressure them to change their vote.
With new unions, they could use mandatory binding arbitration to force additional businesses to infuse cash into their failing multiemployer pension plans.

The other piece of legislation is, not surprisingly, a bailout bill offered by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and co-sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill. (A similar piece of legislation is being offered in the House by Rep. Earl Pomery, D-N.D.) The bill would make failing union pension plans fully backed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a government-sponsored entity.