First-class travel. Six-figure salaries for half the 132 officers and staffers. Plenty of plum jobs for family members.
Life is good at the top of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.
The union, with its headquarters in Kansas City, Kan., represents about 59,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada who make and repair boilers, fit pipes and work on ships and power plants. The recession has hit their trade hard, reducing union membership.
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 received more than $600,000 last year, putting him at the absolute top of the presidents of the dozen biggest unions in the country.
Many relatives of union officers also ride the payroll.
Totaling the pay to just the families of Jones and two other executives, the union and its affiliates gave them more than $2 million in annual salary, according to the most recent financial reports filed by the organizations.
“This is one of the more egregious examples of money flowing like crazy that I’ve ever seen,” said Nathan Mehrens, a former U.S. Labor Department lawyer and now general counsel for Americans for Limited Government, a conservative watchdog group.