The SEIU “Unlucky Thirteen”

Thirteen SEIU Pension Funds Suffering Long Term Financial Trouble

The Service Employees International Union acknowledges how vital retirement security is to its members.

“SEIU’s members have fought long and hard to win pension benefits that will afford them a comfortable and secure retirement. . . . [O]ur union is deeply committed to ensuring that the pension funds in which our members participate continue to provide enhanced benefits and perform at a level adequate to meet their obligations.” (“Retirement Security,” SEIU Website, 2009)

Unfortunately, these lofty and grand statements are contradicted by reality and history. The reality is that all of the Taft-Hartley pension plans sponsored by the SEIU are underfunded. They do not have the assets needed to fully meet their benefit obligations and other debts.

The “Unlucky Thirteen,” which are tracked historically here, are among the most underfunded and financially unstable of SEIU’s pension funds. Most of these funds have been underfunded for more than a decade. They continue to have sharply deteriorating asset/liability ratios, which indicate a fund’s financial health. At 100% or higher, the fund has enough assets to pay all of its promised benefit and other obligations. Below that, it cannot pay fully its obligations.

According to their latest annual filings, the Unlucky Thirteen funds had approximately 300,000 participants and assets of $4.1 Million, but liabilities, benefit commitments and other debts of almost $7 Million. Their combined asset/liability ratio is only 59.2%.

While paying lip-service to the need for a secure retirement, the SEIU has demonstrated a serious and continued disregard for its members’ pensions. Using their annual filings with the U.S. Department of Labor from 1996 forward, this chart shows the long-term financial instability of these funds. For more than a decade, these Unlucky Thirteen, and their unfortunate 300,000 participants, have endured continued financial deterioration and all of them have funding levels low enough to be considered either endangered or critical under the Pension Protection Act.

Clearly, a strong motive for the SEIU’s relentless pushing of the Card Check bill is to draw more workers into their ranks, forcing them to participate in these failing pension plans. This amounts to a dangerous ponzi scheme where newly organized workers’ pension contributions will be used to prop up benefits for current members and retirees, rather than provide a safe and secure pension of their own.