Mar 03, 2011 11:22 PM GMT
On the surface, the fight between the governor of Wisconsin and organized labor is about balancing state budgets and collective-bargaining rights. Behind the scenes, hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to top labor leaders as well as campaign contributions to Democrats could be in jeopardy.
Union treasuries - filled by dues paid by union members - not only fund programs benefiting union members and their families. The money they collect also pays six-figure compensation packages for labor leaders and provides millions of dollars for Democratic causes and candidates.
The Center for Public Integrity found compensation for leaders of the 10 largest unions ranged from $173,000 at the United Auto Workers to $618,000 at the Laborers' International Union of North America, and almost $480,000 for the president of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees. The latter is the target of GOP governors in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Kansas.
The union reports, filed with the Department of Labor, list compensation for all union employees and officers. Salaries make up the biggest portion, but other benefits can include tens of thousands of dollars for meal allowances, mileage allowances and entertainment. Health care and pension contributions are not specifically addressed.