Kyle Olson

For the last several months, pension managers, school districts and public officials have been howling about the alarming state of employee pension funds. They tell us pension systems are dangerously underfunded and taxpayers are on the hook for potentially billions of dollars to make them whole.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey was even floating a bill that would make the federal government the backstop for pension funds – essentially committing to a bailout if the funds ran dry.

But the brain trust at the AFL-CIO and American Federation of Teachers have come up with a new idea: let’s use the billions of pension dollars set aside for union retirees to fund real estate development.

In other words, they want to use massive sums of money sitting in a (albeit evil) bank somewhere to put union members back to work on construction projects. This from people who said former President George W. Bush was crazy for proposing the investment of Social Security funds into the stock market.

Has Rich Trumka or Randi Weingarten looked at the real estate market lately? It’s kind of not good.

From the New York Times:

“Richard L. Trumka, president of the labor federation, will present the plan at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago as part of organized labor’s effort to get the federal government, banks and money managers to do more to issue bonds or create other mechanisms to finance infrastructure projects.

“A.F.L.-C.I.O. officials said they planned to work with Deutsche Bank and other financial institutions in the hope of coming up with hundreds of millions of dollars to retrofit large commercial buildings. Many building owners are hesitating to do such retrofits because they are highly leveraged and do not have the cash to make the investments. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. hopes its $10 billion will provide an incentive for banks and hedge funds to develop financing vehicles to make such projects happen.”

What happens if the real estate investments go south? Who pays to make sure Mrs. Jones and Mr. Anderson collect their full pensions on schedule? Trumka and Weingarten? Their members? Of course not. These folks have a long history of seeking bailouts from Congress when something goes wrong.

Pension funds should not be treated like union piggy banks, unless the unions want to accept the responsibility of replacing the money if the investments turn sour. Taxpayers should not be left holding the bag for a foolish self-serving union financial strategy.

Kyle Olson

Kyle is founder of Education Action Group and, a news service dedicated to education reform and school spending research, reporting, analysis and commentary.

He is co-author of Glenn Beck’s “Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education,” available at

Kyle is a contributor to

He has made appearances on the Fox News Channel, The Blaze, Fox Business Network, NPR and MSNBC. Kyle has given scores of interviews on talk radio programs coast to coast.

Kyle likes talking about his family, as well as his favorite music. Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Johnny Cash are at the top of the list. He has attended 25 Bob Dylan shows.

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