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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

America’s Richest Two Percent: Union Presidents -- By Jim Geraghty, National Review

Elsewhere on NRO, Kevin Williamson notes “the AFL-CIO maintains a website dedicated to executive compensation” and concludes, “The entire rhetoric of inequality is simply an excuse to rage about incomes at the top, a generation’s worth of progressive shenanigans having failed to do much about those at the bottom.”

There’s a reason union leaders stir fury about the richest one percent, and not, say, a bit lower. Almost all of the presidents of the country’s biggest unions earn salaries that put them in the richest two percent of Americans, and most of their executive staff is in the richest three percent or so.

According to public disclosure forms collected and posted by the Center for Union Facts, the top salaries at the AFL-CIO in 2012 were President Richard Trumka’s $277,486, Executive Vice President  Arlene Holt-Baker’s $243,571, and Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler’s $243,571. (This is base salary; the top staff gets benefits and other compensations that amount to five-figure sums.)

This puts the top staff of that union in the richest two percent in terms of annual income, which is about $200,000.

This Wisconsin AFL-CIO photo shows AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, left; 
a Green Bay Packers mascot, and on the right, Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt,
who made $108,526 in 2010, according to the union’s 990 form

Still, the AFL-CIO leaders are underpaid compared to top staff at some other unions.

One union president can say – either with pride or shame – that he is, indeed, one of America’s richest one-half of one percent. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ International President, Gerald McEntee, had a gross salary of $1,020,751 in 2012.

American Federation of Teachers President Rhonda Weingarten is listed as having a base salary of $396,304 – with more than $160,000 in “benefits and other compensation.” This puts her in the richest one percent, as the threshold for that distinction is a salary of $394,000. Fifteen staffers at the organization collect more than $200,000, once you combine salary and other benefits.

James Callahan, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, reported a gross salary of $352,101 in 2012.

Edwin Hill, International President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, made $326,253 in gross salary in 2012.


The average union member makes $950 per week, which comes out to $49,400, before taxes and before union dues are taken out – and there’s a big range in union dues per member per year.

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