Letter to the Editor: The Lowdown on Pension Politics

This Letter to the Editor is a response from reader and CPA George Schirtzinger to Justin Horwath's story "Pension Politics," which was printed last week in SFR.---

Corporate issuer of shares has virtually no control or benefit from transaction. NO money goes into the corporation from Buyer or Seller.

Employer and Employee contribute to Pension Fund. Fund invests money, earns return. Retirees are paid out of value in the Fund at time of retirement and subsequently. Value may be less than contributions due to investment losses.

Corporations use monies earned from doing business to fund corporate speech in whatever form, according to management direction and federal law. Shareholder influence is exerted through annual meetings and voting of shares.  

Unions have little income besides dues, which thus are the majority of funding of union speech. Dues come directly from members' paychecks, members directly fund union speech. If a member disagrees with union speech, he is forced to fund it unless that portion of dues is refunded.

Knowing all of this, the following questions come to mind:

  • How many union retirees feel they were involved in setting the course of union speech?
  • How many union members object to union speech and get a refund of that portion of their dues?
  • Bundy says union members are not forced to “directly” fund union speech. Since dues are by far the biggest source of union money, how does that work?  
  • What control over national union speech does a local have when it forwards a portion of dues to the national union and AFL-CIO?
  • Should taxpayers be forced to fund public employee union speech? PE unions exist on dues from members which are paid by government with money taken from taxpayers under duress. Corporate funds come from voluntary purchases of goods and services.  
  • Should PE unions be contributing to politicians who then negotiate pay and benefit arrangements with the same unions? In the private sector, this would raise issues of conflict of interest. Why is government different?   

Full disclosure: The author of this presentation is SFR Editor Alexa Schirtzinger's father.

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