The majority hard-working union members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers have been dutifully paying their union dues without complaint. However, how their dues are spent may surprise some of them.
In Pittsburgh, the FBI is investigating the leadership of the Boilermakers union local 154 and how as much as $1 million in union dues were spent, according to KDKA News.
KDKA discovered large expenditures designated as “gifts,” including $270,00 spent at Best Buy over those three years. Over a two year period, the union spent $48,000 at the Apple Store, $28,800 at a store called Drum World in the South Hills, $19,000 at Tumi Luggage and $6,000 at an upscale sunglasses store in Miami.
Since information about the recipients of those “gifts” wasn’t included in the financial reports, who received them isn’t clear.
Union leadership also spent large sums on meetings, conventions and entertainment as detailed in the financial reports. The union spent more than $31,000 at the Double Tree Ocean Point in Miami Beach, $34,000 at the Hilton Marco Island Resort, and $10,000 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
This isn’t the first time the Boilermakers’ union bosses have come under fire for their extravagant spending.
Last year, Watchdog reported that three International Brotherhood of Boilermakers officers were each paid more than $500,000 during the union’s fiscal year.
Including gross salaries and other disbursements reported to the U.S. Department of Labor, IBB International Vice President Ed Power was paid $697,714. President Newton Jones was paid $639,034, and international vice president Joseph Maloney was paid $501,392
In that same year, according to reports on file with the Department of Labor, the international union spent $29,414 for season tickets to the Washington Redskins, $5,680 for season tickets to the Kansas City Chiefs, $15,192 for season tickets to the Kansas City Royals, $7,080 to a Kansas City florist, and $11,470 at the Capital Grill in Kansas City.
While the union’s spending on conferences and conventions in FY 2014 was down considerably from prior years, the union did spend $234,820 at the Hilton in Marco Island, as well as $436,448 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
In 2012, the Kansas City Star, ran a piece entitled Boilermakers union leaders receive lofty pay, benefits, which reads (in part):
A prime suite at Kansas Speedway. First-class travel. Six-figure salaries for half the staffers. Plenty of plum jobs for family members.
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 totaled more than $600,000 last year, putting him at the absolute top of the presidents of the dozen biggest unions in the country.
Pay isn’t the only reason to aspire to an office at headquarters, the newspaper found:
• While few other unions still own planes, the Boilermakers partially own two, paying a half million dollars last year for maintenance and fees. When they travel on commercial flights, officers can go first-class.
• Once they arrive, officers may enjoy memorable experiences — exclusive pheasant hunting expeditions, fly-fishing adventures in Alaska, stays in Paris and on Marco Island, Fla.
• Some officers can supplement their union salaries with pay from the union’s own bank. At least two have made as much as an additional quarter million dollars a year.
• And once their careers are over, retiring officers drive away in gift cars.
In past years, Boilermakers’ union bossed have spent thousands of their members’ dues to travel and stay at some of the nicest resorts in the world.