After Largest Dues Increase in History...Why Is the IBT in the Red?

April 5, 2005: How many times have you seen Hoffa and Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel brag that they have put the International Union into the black financially? And that it was “bankrupt” when they took office six years ago?

The truth is that the International Union is millions of dollars in the red. Don’t take our word for it. This data comes from the IBT’s own audited reports and financial reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. These reports are signed by Hoffa and Keegel.

International Union Net Assets Are Below Zero

The IBT’s LM-2 financial report revealed net assets of minus $8.5 million. That’s right, the IBT has a negative balance sheet.

So why do Hoffa-Keegel claim in the February 2005 Teamster magazine that the IBT has net assets of $148 million? Are they lying to the Department of Labor—or are they lying to the rank and file?

Hoffa even brags on page 16 that “we have the largest net assets in the labor movement.” When Hoffa claims the “highest net assets” of any union, he must mean highest negative assets! By way of comparison the United Auto Workers has net assets of $1.128 billion. And the UAW is half the size of the Teamsters.

Two terms of Hoffa-Keegel and our net assets have dropped by more than $10 million. They have taken us into the red.

In July 2002 we had the largest dues hike in the history of the Teamsters, enacted by the Hoffa “No Dues Increase” slate. Dues went from 2 hours pay to 2.5 hours pay for Teamster members. The bulk of this new money went to the IBT, not local unions. The International Union’s income nearly doubled.

How Could their Big Dues Hike Lead to Deficit?

Ten percent of the IBT budget goes to organizing and fifteen percent to our strike fund. The rest is for the unrestricted use of the leadership. With IBT income up 79%, salaries and appointments have ballooned.

The IBT also has obligations for special officials-only pensions and retirement health plans, that have put the union into debt. According the IBT’s own LM-2 report, the IBT owes unfunded obligations of $55 million in retiree health benefits for IBT employees and also for IBT officials and appointees.

This is a special health plan, not available to working Teamsters. It provides 100 percent coverage for life, for retirees and their families.

No premiums to pay, ever.

No Cuts for Hoffa Appointees

Does that sound better than your health plan? What happened when health costs went up for your retiree coverage? For Central States Teamsters, retiree coverage for a Teamster and spouse has gone from costing $50 per month to an average of over $1000, under Hoffa’s leadership.

Central States Union Chair, Fred Gegare, says that is necessary due a “perfect storm.” But notice that Gegare has free health care for life for his family.

The IBT could lower that obligation, and get our union out of debt, by instituting cost savings and having Gegare and other retired officials pay some co-pays or premiums for their health care. But they won’t do that.

There is an additional $59 million deficiency owed to the pension plan for employees, appointees and officials of the IBT. Do you think they will cut pension accruals in half for highly paid officials? That would help our balance sheet. Central States cut your pension accrual in half.

Will Gegare cut his own?

Old Lies Smell Bad

Once again in the February Teamster magazine they continue to blame the previous leadership of Ron Carey for their own greed and mistakes. Carey left the union in late 1997, nearly eight years ago. At that time, our union had better net assets than it does now, by more than $10 million. Even after all liabilities were accounted for, our union was in the black.

Isn’t it time for Hoffa and Keegel to quit playing the blame game and take responsibility for their own mismanagement?

Hoffa and Keegel recently signed checks for 34 consecutive months to Executive Assistant Carlow Scalf, money that Scalf was embezzling from the IBT. No wonder we are in the red.

The IBT will eventually get out of the red, with that 79 percent increase in income pouring in over $140 million a year. But the money is not being used to build Teamster power as we were promised.

No Teamster should resent paying dues: our union needs money to take on corporate greed. But we have a right to expect our money to be used to build union power, not pork. And, we deserve the truth—not spin or lies—from the officials who manage hundreds of millions of our dues dollars.
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