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Sunday, May 13, 2012
France, Flights, and Free Cars: A Peek into a $10B Jones Act 'Union'
By Selected News Articles @ 8:03 PM :: 5159 Views :: Jones Act

Hefty salaries, perks for union leaders raise eyebrows

(The Boilermakers are a key Jones Act shipyard union allegedly representing 1000s of workers at US shipyards.)

by Judy L. Thomas McClatchy Newspapers (excerpts)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — First-class travel. Six-figure salaries for half the 132 officers and staffers. Plenty of plum jobs for family members.

Life is good at the top of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.

The union, with its headquarters in Kansas City, Kan., represents about 59,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada who make and repair boilers, fit pipes and work on ships and power plants. The recession has hit their trade hard, reducing union membership.

At the same time, the president’s salary has surged 67 percent in the past six years, not counting a recent raise. Add in travel and some other expenses, and Newton B. Jones received more than $600,000 last year, putting him at the absolute top of the presidents of the dozen biggest unions in the country.

Many relatives of union officers also ride the payroll.

Totaling the pay to just the families of Jones and two other executives, the union and its affiliates gave them more than $2 million in annual salary, according to the most recent financial reports filed by the organizations....

“The Boilermaker family of organizations, together valued at over $10 billion, has proudly represented the interests of hundreds of thousands of working men and women for over 130 years,” Stapp wrote….  ($10B / 59,000 = $169,491 per member)

In April, an anonymous letter, mailed purportedly by Boilermakers members and obtained by The Kansas City Star, sharply criticized union leaders.

“While members and their families struggle to make it through this recession, our IBB (International Brotherhood of Boilermakers) leaders have been living high off the hog at members’ expense,” the letter said.

“We regret that we have to be anonymous at this time because we fear retribution from a leadership that regrettably values its own personal and financial interests above the rank and file’s.”

Jones received $607,022 in total disbursements….

All together, the total disbursements last year to the top nine Boilermakers officers — $4.1 million…

“President Jones was recently unanimously re-elected by approximately 600 delegates in an open democratic election process, clearly demonstrating membership support for him,” Stapp said….

While their union pay may seem comfortable, some officers get a second hefty paycheck, thanks to a bank the union controls.

The union is principal shareholder of Brotherhood Bank & Trust. Three of the bank’s 11 board members are union officers, and one is a retired union officer.

The bank’s chairman? Boilermakers President Newton Jones.

In calendar year 2010, Jones received $52,945 as chairman of the bank’s board of directors in addition to his union pay, according to the most recent report he filed with the Labor Department. The previous year, Jones earned $79,775 as bank chairman and $260,000 as the bank’s chief executive officer and interim president. In 2008, he received $230,000 from the bank….

“International Secretary-Treasurer William Creeden reported earning $258,650 from the bank in 2009, the last year he filed. He also received $252,098 in salary from the Boilermakers union in fiscal 2010.

And officers who retire from the Boilermakers union get more than a watch — each gets to keep his company car.

In 2010 the union “gifted” a vehicle to retiring international vice president Sammy May. The vehicle originally cost $73,998 with a book value of $51,388 when the union gave it to him, the union’s annual report said.

According to its annual reports, the union has a long-standing policy of giving vehicles “as gifts to retiring officers.”

International vice president George Rogers retired in 2008, taking with him his company car that cost $53,380. That same year, the union gave a vehicle that cost $58,959 to the widow of an officer who had died.

Some retiring officers continue to receive union pay by working as a consultant. Rogers made $600,000 over two years, annual reports indicate.

Along with the $300,000 in consulting fees he received in fiscal year 2008, the year he retired, Rogers earned $400,871 in salary as a union vice president, Department of Labor documents show.

In fiscal year 2009, records show Rogers received another $300,000 in consulting fees….

Newton Jones, 58, took over the president’s office when his father, Charles W. Jones, retired in 2003 after 20 years.

Among Newton Jones’ family members:

  • His brother, Charles, is director of the Boilermakers’ History Preservation Department and assistant to Newton. His salary in 2011 was $150,091, with total disbursements of $187,641.
  • His sister, Donna, earns $98,802 as an executive secretary.
  • His relative, Michael Peterson, is an aide to Jones and until last year worked for the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program, earning $132,746 in 2010, according to the program’s most recent tax document, and $127,252 from the union, according to its annual report for fiscal 2011. He told The Star he is now an international representative for the union as well as an aide to Jones.
  • Jones’ son, Cullen, is a video communications technician who lives in North Carolina, earning $68,482 salary with total disbursements of $173,288 last year. He is 23, according to a court filing.

The union in 2009 paid $43,000 to send Cullen to the Vancouver Film School in British Columbia. The school describes itself as “Canada’s premier entertainment arts institution and one of the most distinguished worldwide.”

Several members of the Creeden family also make a good living working for the Boilermakers, totaling $624,000 in salary….

When the union’s officers get away, they do it in style.

The union has an 18.75 percent ownership in a Piaggio airplane, which holds up to nine passengers. Today, a new one sells for about $6 million. The Boilermakers also have a 6.25 percent share in a second airplane, according to its Labor Department filing….

Once they’re on the ground, officers make sure their stays are memorable.

About a year ago, members of the union’s International Executive Council treated themselves to at least one gathering at a renowned hunting lodge in Gettysburg, S.D. The council — the president and eight other officers — listed the trip as a council meeting.

The lodge, called Paul Nelson Farm, is a favorite hunting spot of former Vice President Dick Cheney and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.

It’s a luxurious resort that “attracts 700 hunters a year who are prepared to pay for the very best,” according to a 2009 review in the magazine Business Jet Traveler.

The Paul Nelson Farm website offers a package that includes three days of hunting with guides and dogs, pheasant cleaning, and meals and beverages. For a group of six or more, a three-day package runs $4,595 per person.

The Boilermakers paid a total of $163,000, according to Labor Department reports they filed.

The union also paid $12,854 in 2010 to Alaska Fly Fishing Adventures in Sterling, Alaska, but it is unclear who enjoyed the service, described as an “outfitter and tour guide.” ...

In France, where officers went in fiscal 2009 to negotiate contracts, the union paid $5,232 to Yachts de Paris, a “dinner cruise service provider.” …

And yes, there is even more … Read it Here

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