Sunday, January 5, 2014

SEIU Officials Are Linked to Pension-Slashing Scheme Backed by Enron Billionaire

Andrew McDonald
Remember how Andy Stern was recently trashed for supporting the efforts of Gina Raimondo, the Treasurer of Rhode Island, to slash workers’ pensions?

Well, check out this new development.

It turns out that Stern’s former spokesperson, Andrew McDonald, is linked to a “diabolical plot to loot worker pensions” that’s backed by a billionaire from Enron.

Who’s Andrew McDonald?

In 2008, McDonald was the “Assistant Director of Communications” at SEIU’s DC headquarters. He served as Stern’s press spokesperson and helped carry out SEIU’s attack against SEIU-UHW, which was then headed by union reformer Sal Rosselli.

In 2008, McDonald worked with Tyrone Freeman to try to prevent the Los Angeles Times from completing its investigation into his massive corruption scandal, according to internal emails that have not previously aired publicly.

Andy Stern
Below, Tasty has posted an email between Freeman and his communications staffer, Leigh Shelton, in which they discuss McDonald’s role in trying to fend off inquiries by LA Times reporter Paul Pringle. At the time, McDonald reported to Steve Trossman.

The email is important because it shows how SEIU’s top officials in DC directly aided Freeman in the midst of the scandal... perhaps as part of the cover-up operation allegedly directed by Trossman.

Now… let's turn back to McDonald’s link to the pension-slashing campaign that's raging across the U.S.

After leaving SEIU, McDonald took a job at the Pew Charitable Trusts, where he served as a “Communications Senior Officer.”

At that time, Pew partnered with an Enron billionaire, John Arnold, to launch an attack against workers’ pensions in the U.S., according to a report recently issued by David Sirota, a nationally syndicated columnist and author. 

The anti-pension partnership uses Pew’s supposedly “neutral” reputation to champion an ideologically driven plan to slash workers’ pensions and replace them with 401(k) plans, according to Sirota’s report, which is entitled “The Plot against Pensions: The Pew-Arnold Campaign to Undermine America’s Retirement Security – and Leave Taxpayers with the Bill.”

By “issuing joint reports and conducting joint legislative briefings,” says Sirota, “Pew and Arnold have successfully manufactured the perception of crisis -- which has prompted demands for dramatic action. Pew and Arnold have consequently helped shape those general demands into specific efforts to cut guaranteed retirement income…”
John Arnold, Enron billionaire

It turns out that McDonald played a role in pushing out these anti-pension reports to policy makers and the public. For example, when Pew issued a report entitled “The Trillion Dollar Gap: Underfunded State Retirement Systems and the Roads to Reform,” McDonald helped “disseminate” and publicize the report, according to the report’s acknowledgments.

Is it pure coincidence that McDonald and SEIU's President Emeritus are both working to promote the slashing of workers’ pensions?   

Interestingly, Pew and the Enron billionaire have specifically targeted a handful of states such as Rhode Island… where Stern recently rushed to the aid of the state’s pension-slashing treasurer.

The following are some excerpts from Sirota’s report... which raise an obvious question:

Why the f*ck are SEIU officials promoting efforts to slash the pensions of public-sector workers, especially given that SEIU's members include hundreds of thousands of state, county and municipal workers across the U.S? (Note: Freeman's email exchange regarding the LA Times and McDonald is below.)
In each of these states and many others now debating pension “reform,” Pew and Arnold have colluded to shape a narrative that suggests cutting public pension benefits is the only viable path forward. This, despite the fact that a) cutting wasteful corporate welfare could raise enough revenues to prevent such cuts; b) the pension “reform” proposals from Pew and Arnold could end up costing more than simply shoring up the existing system; and c) pension expenditures are typically more reliable methods of economic stimulus than corporate welfare.

Those inconvenient facts have been ignored in the political debate over pensions. Thanks to the combination of Pew’s well-known brand and Arnold’s vast resources, the pension-slashing movement’s extremist message has been able to dominate the political discourse in states throughout America.

The result is a skewed national conversation about state budgets – one in which middle-class public sector workers are increasingly asked to assume all the financial sacrifice for balancing the government books, and corporations and the wealthy are exempted from any sacrifice whatsoever.