LaborTalk for June 10, 2011

131 on the AFL-CIO Payroll Earn
$100,000 or More, Plus Benefits

By Harry Kelber

On the premise that AFL-CIO dues-payers have a right to know, we are publishing the salaries of officers and staff on the labor federation payroll, based on figures from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Those figures reveal that 131 AFL-CIO officials and staff were paid $100,000 or more, not counting the generous benefits each received. In fact, 17 of these had a total compensation package of more than $150,000 per year.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has a salary of $264,827, plus $18,513 in additional compensation, for a total of $283,340.

Trumka attracted criticism when it was disclosed that, as AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer, his annual salary was increased by $74,000 from $165,000, amounting to a 44 percent wage boost, plus a 60 percent pension when he retires.

Arlene Holt-Baker, the AFL-CIO's Executive Vice President, has a 30-year record as a grass-roots organizer for AFSCME in Los Angeles and as a political activist. She was selected for the job by key members of the Executive Council, who made sure that there were no candidates to challenge her in an open election.

According to the AFL-CIO Constitution, Arlene Holt's principal job as executive vice president is to "act on behalf of the President, when requested to do so." She receives $238,975 in salary and $15,163 in extra compensation.

The third top AFL-CIO officer, Liz Shuler, also did not have to face a competitive election as Secretary-Treasurer, because she was sponsored by her mentor, Edwin Hill, IBEW President. Although the AFL- CIO Constitution names her as the chief financial officer, she has refused to provide any information about the Federation's finances. She has an annual salary of $185,665 and an extra $5,940 in compensation.

Need Oversight of AFL-CIO Finances

Under the title, "Benefits and Other Compensation," senior staff people, who earn six-figure salaries, also get hefty expense income. Here are three egregious examples:

A Senior Organizer gets $56,189 on top of his $106,396 salary. Special Assistant to the President gets extra compensation of $43,684, and Senior Field Representative adds $52,803 to his annual salary.

* * * * *

Surely, we have a right to know who hands out these lavish salaries and perks. How were they determined? How do AFL-CIO officials justify such high pay standards for themselves and their staffs? And what have these people accomplished for the outsized salaries we are paying them?

We, the members, are their employers. We shouldn't allow them to play fast and loose with our dues money.

Isn't it time we had an Oversight Committee that would review the hiring and wage policies of the AFL-CIO and shed some light on how the Federation's finances are handled?

LaborTalk will be posted here on June 14, 2011 and on our two web sites and on

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