By Jason Hart | Watchdog.org
Union dues paid to International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers fund generous officer pay and left-wing politics, the union’s latest report to the U.S. Department of Labor reveals.
IAM president Tom Buffenbarger was paid a gross salary of $258,104 in 2013. Including other disbursements, Buffenbarger received $319,667 from the union’s Maryland headquarters.
IAM paid general vice president Rich Michalski, who retired in 2013, a total of $316,179 during the calendar year. Other IAM vice presidents were similarly well-compensated: Bob Martinez received $303,668, Mark Blondin received $299,721 and several additional vice presidents were paid more than $270,000.
A total of 15 officers and employees at IAM headquarters received gross salaries exceeding $200,000, and 36 received total disbursements exceeding $200,000. One of those 36 happened to be Buffenbarger’s son Andrew, who was paid $201,086 as a “Special Assistant to the International President.”
IAM headquarters paid its 388 officers and employees an average of $118,234 in 2013. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for a machinist in 2013 was $41,020. The average aerospace engineering and operations technician was paid $62,540, and the average aerospace engineer was paid $105,450.
As of Dec. 31, 2013, IAM had 570,423 members, a drop from 576,947 the year before and from 627,408 in 2003. The union had 730,673 members at the end of 2000.
IAM headquarters collected $131 million in dues, fees and per capita taxes from affiliates in 2013. In states without right-to-work laws, a total of 7,313 nonmembers were forced to pay IAM “agency fees.”
In South Carolina, a right-to-work state where IAM is trying to unionize a factory of Boeing employees, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley reminded workers in her recent State of the State speech IAM fought to block Boeing from opening its plant in Charleston.
In addition to spending more than $45 million on compensation — not including health insurance or retirement benefits — IAM spent nearly $1 million on fuel, maintenance and hangar rental for the officers’ private jet.
Although far less costly than the union’s payroll, IAM expenditures reported to the Department of Labor as “Contributions, Gifts and Grants” are noteworthy for their clear political slant.
IAM headquarters disclosed $461,438 in “Political Activities,” but left-wing nonprofits received more than $500,000 from IAM in the form of contributions the union did not report as political spending.
The union paid leftist radio host Bill Press $60,000, paid union think tank Economic Policy Institute $46,000 and paid union front Jobs With Justice $31,000. Socialized medicine lobbying group America’s Agenda: Health Care for All, received a $25,000 donation from IAM.
Other IAM contributions included $10,000 to Chicago-based union front Interfaith Worker Justice, $7,500 to leftist magazine In These Times and $5,000 each to “progressive” think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research and “progressive” activist group Campaign for America’s Future.
Activist affiliates of union coalition AFL-CIO — of which IAM is a member — raked in IAM contributions, as well. IAM gave $288,00 to Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and made donations of $5,000 or more to Coalition of Labor Union Women, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, A. Phillip Randolph Institute, Pride at Work and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
IAM did not respond to a Watchdog.org inquiry about the union’s expenditures.
According to The Center for Responsive Politics, IAM is the nation’s 35th-highest political campaign donor in terms of federal contributions dating to 1989. IAM has spent $33 million on campaign contributions, with 97 percent going to Democrats.