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The Pa. pensions debate: Union hypocrisy

If actions really do speak louder than words, the verbiage spewed by Pennsylvania’s biggest public-sector unions in opposition to 401(k)-style pension plans for government employees rings hollow indeed. That’s because they offer their own staffers 401(k)-style plans.

Citing U.S. Labor Department information, Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, says this “rank hypocrisy” is practiced by the Pennsylvania State Education Association; Service Employees International Union Local 668; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13; the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO; and the state arm of the American Federation of Teachers.

“Either they’re knowingly mistreating their own employees, or they understand that 401(k)-style plans are best for workers and employers and have been opposing beneficial reforms,” he says. These unions are “all for” traditional defined-benefit plans “when taxpayers are footing the bill,” but “suddenly 401(k)-style plans become the wiser choice” when they’re “paying the bill themselves.”

“It’s time for union leaders to explain their hypocrisy,” Mr. Brouillette says. But no explanation is good enough to satisfy taxpayers on the hook for Pennsylvania’s $53 billion in public pension liabilities.


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