Good job, good wages
By Steve Bailey, Boston Globe Columnist | April 15, 2005
ANDREW STERN IS PRESIDENT of the Service Employees International Union,
the fastest-growing union in the United States with 1.6 million members.
Ambitious and intense, Stern wants to radically remake the labor movement
by consolidating it into a few megaunions that could have a chance of
standing up to consolidating Corporate America. "Can this man save labor?"
Business Week asked in a recent cover story. Stern's compensation,
according to the union's most recent regulatory filing: $239,511.
David Holway is president of the National Association of Government
Employees, a Quincy-based SEIU local with just 46,000 members spread out
over 41 states. Last year Holway's local spent about $2.3 million more
than it took in, according to its annual report. That followed a net loss
of about $2.2 million the year before, according to minutes of a board
meeting. The union's assets fell by 40 percent last year, and the union
took out a $2 million line of credit, using its headquarters as collateral.
Holway's compensation, according to the union's most recent regulatory
A gruff-talking former lobbyist for NAGE, Holway sees himself as a
reformer cleaning up the excesses of his predecessor, Kenneth T. Lyons,
who ruled the union for 40 years before being forced out nearly four
years ago over the matter of a few lunch tabs for a state official at
Anthony's Pier 4. Few, though, would argue that change was overdue.
As for his compensation, Holway adopts the standard CEO defense: The
board sets my salary, I don't. "My salary is set by the national
executive committee. They set the benefit level," says Holway, who took
over NAGE in 2002.
And a friendly committee it is. Holway makes $229,455 as president of
NAGE and another $10,692 for sitting on the SEIU executive board, or
$240,147 in all. By comparison, Ronald Gettelfinger, who heads the
United Auto Workers, with 625,000 members, makes $151,630. Morton Bahr,
who heads the Communications Workers of America, with 557,000 members,
makes $195,137. John Sweeney, who heads the AFL-CIO, with 13 million
members, makes $277,785. And SEIU's Local 509, which also represents
state workers in Massachusetts, paid its president $65,724.
In all, 11 NAGE employees make $100,000 or more, including the union's
lobbyist, who makes $193,692 in the job Holway had. Holway makes no
apologies. "I am not afraid to pay for talent," he says. "I need hard-
working people as smart as the people we are going up against."
Holway, 57, who has homes in Cambridge and Martha's Vineyard, says the
union's deficit stems, in part, from defending lawsuits brought by
Lyons and his family, a cost he said was approaching $2 million.
Rather than raise dues, the board decided to "spend down the surplus,"
Holway says. The local's cash position shrunk from $2.4 million to
less than $100,000 in the last year, according to the annual report.
There's another option: bringing NAGE's compensation in line with its peers.