Unions investment of pension funds in infrastructure projects. 

This is an except from the post Which Side Are You On? on this blog.

It is about union leaders agreeing to invest union pension funds in infrastructure programs at the Clinton Global Initiave conference held in Denver on June 23 - 25, 2014.


In a Huffington Post article after the conference, Bill Clinton said,

At the inaugural CGI America meeting in 2011, the AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions committed to raising $10 billion over five years from members' pension funds to invest in infrastructure projects and energy-efficient retrofits. Since then, the AFL-CIO has engaged dozens of private and public partners, and has actually exceeded its original goal two years ahead of schedule. So far, just a small percentage of the $10.2 billion that has been allocated has been actively deployed into infrastructure projects, yet they've already created over 33,500 good jobs.”

Harnessing Innovation and Cooperation to Create Good Jobs and Growth | Bill Clinton @ HuffPost Politics

This benign expression of neoliberal do-gooderism is a cover for the rapacious drive for profit in the corporate world, and in the financial world of banks and hedge funds, who see an untapped gold mine in the public employee pension funds built up in the last fifty years and now being used by the now retiring post-World War II generation. At the same time as Wall Street has a steady drumbeat in cities and states across the country that public employee pension funds are not sustainable (What problems they do have are due to cities and states not paying their legally mandated portion of the pension funds.), they are finding every way possible to loot these pension funds…with the cooperation of union leaders.

In video of the press conference with union leaders held at the beginning of this year's CGI conference, it can be seen that the main impetus for this initiative of using union members pension funds in risky investments for construction projects formerly financed by municipal, state, and federal governments, is Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers. Joining her at the podium, with many other labor leaders in the audience, were Richard Trumka (President of the AFL-CIO), Lee Saunders (President of AFSCME), and Shaun McGarvey (Building and Construction Trades/AFL-CIO).

Weingarten had first proposed this initiative at the CGI America 2012 conference in Chicago. On June 7, 2012 Weingarten had flown into Chicago, not to support the members of the Chicago Teachers Union who were on that very day voting by 98% to authorize their September strike, but to participate on a panel with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In the video of the panel Rahm Emanuel can be seen giving the example of 10,000 people applying for 75 water department jobs. He praised the unions for work rule and pay scale changes “that saved us a lot of money” and made the 75 jobs possible. Randi Weingarten concluded the panel saying, “People want to work. When labor and business work together to put people into jobs it creates great hope around the country.”

On December 13th, 2012, Weingarten held a press conference with Bill Clinton and Obama’s housing secretary Shaun Donovan to announce the NY Teachers’ Retirement Fund would invest $1 billion from the NYC teachers pension fund for Hurricane Sandy relief for the NYC area. NYC Mayor Bloomburg criticized the investment because taxpayers would have to bail out the pension fund if the investment failed. One month later the U.S. Congress allocated $50.5 billion dollars for Hurricane Sandy relief. This is another example of the highly secretive and highly dubious goings on in public pension funds.

Randi Weingarten did eventually join the CTU picket line near the end of the CTU strike in September, 2012. Whether it was to support the strike or end it has not been disclosed. The AFT had only given tepid support to the union during the strike since the AFT had not mobilized other locals around the country to support the CTU. 

Also see:

The Trust was a bust. Now where's Bill and Randi?
Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog - July 27, 2015
The infrastructure collaboration proposed by Rahm Emanuel and Randi Weingarten has gone bust.