Unions “must be just as willing to expose and remedy conflicts at Ullico as we have been at other companies in corporate America.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/9/03]
John Sweeney may wax eloquent about the obligation of union leaders to protect the workers they claim to represent. But he is more than three years too late.
As a Ullico director, Sweeney was there in late 1999, when Georgine offered the option of buying Ullico stock “low.” And he was there in 2000 and 2001 when the directors were allowed to sell it back “high.” Sweeney did not participate in the insider deals. But he apparently did not protest what he must have realized was a rotten deal for the millions of workers whose dues and pensions were tied to the gyrations in Ullico’s stock.
One possible explanation for Sweeney’s earlier silence involves a $24 million debt that the AFL-CIO has owed to Ullico’s insurance arm to cover renovation costs at the federation’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. During 2000 and 2001, there were no repayments, according to financial disclosure forms filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. In 2002, the loan was converted to a mortgage. Presumably, Sweeney was aware of the AFL-CIO’s debt to Ullico.