WASHINGTON, D.C. – Back in 2011, union leaders announced a plan to use pension dollars set aside for union retirees to fund real estate development.
The New York Times reported the AFL-CIO in particular wanted to work with banks and pension systems to come up “with hundreds of millions of dollars to retrofit large commercial buildings.”
Such investments, of course, are risky. And the unions are clearly willing to risk their members’ retirement benefits to fund these projects.
Could taxpayers be left holding the bag if things don’t work out and retirees need their pension funds suddenly restored by the government?
This week, the AFL-CIO walked the talk by announcing that it will retrofit its own building to make it more “green.” Officials didn’t announce how much pension money will be needed to complete the job.
Former President Bill Clinton was on hand to herald the announcement.
“This is a big deal. We can create jobs that pay above-average wages that do things that need doing that will be benefitting the next generation for 30 or 40 years that actually have the self-financing mechanism.
“The AFL-CIO in this case has set an example of being the best business people in America,” Clinton said.
American Federation of Teachers President Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten was also on hand. The AFT is a subsidiary of the AFL-CIO.
“We are talking about harnessing the strength of pension funds of teachers, of nurses, of firefighters and other workers to rebuild our country and create the infrastructure that America needs,” Weingarten said.
“The AFL-CIO executive council decided there was no better way to demonstrate labor’s commitment to energy retrofits than doing it here and doing it at home at the AFL-CIO headquarters with 100 percent union labor and 100 percent American-made equipment. That is the way the labor movement walks its walk.”
There’s no word on who would be left holding the bag if the unions gamble their members’ pension funds away on “green energy.” In all likelihood, it would be taxpayers who would need to make the funds whole once more.
Hold on to your wallets. This could get interesting.