The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, a union with about 59,000 members, has been under Federal investigation for almost ten years. Trustees have been found charging hundreds of thousands of dollars of travel, restaurant, and other “expenses,” and leaders have made several irresponsible business choices based on family ties. The Kansas City Star has an exhaustive list of the abuses and nepotism:
• 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.
These complaints only scratch the surface. Over the past few years, the U.S. Department of Labor has ordered the union to make many changes, but it has only complied with a few. Many of the shady officials responsible for the more egregious abuses remain employed by the union. Meanwhile, union membership and funding have been in steady decline for years.Abusive leadership is one of the reasons unions as a whole are shrinking. When an organization puts the interests of its leaders above those of its members, members lose interest in the organization.