Slater/Lusk have been running a series of posts on the finances of the unions. Pretty weak stuff. All Slater/Lusk have proven is that they don’t understand the corporate structure of unions, they can’t read accounts, and they can’t do research. Still, you knew they were seeding something. And then came the Talleys’ complaint to the SFO about the Meatworkers’ Union.
The complaint has been mercilessly shot down by the Meatworkers who have made a mockery of the ability of Talleys’ Randian superheroes and their paid lackeys to read a simple annual report. The SFO will give the complaint short shrift, just as the same complaint to the Accounting Society six months ago was.
See, Talleys allege that there were discrepancies in the Meatworkers’ books. Not a few percent here or there missing – the stuff that might credibly point to some kind of fraud. They alleged that about 80% of the union dues were missing.
They got to that point by saying ‘the union has about 18,000 members (according to the DoL 2010 union membership report), Meatworkers’ union dues are $5.95 a week – that’s about $5.5m a year, but the annual report of the New Zealand Meat Workers and Allied Trades Union Inc shows only $700,000 of income.’
‘Where’, they ask, ‘is the other $4.8m?’
At this point, any sensible person (and especially, you would have thought, any experienced business person) would have said ‘shit, I guess there’s something about the corporate structure of the union I don’t understand’. But Talleys, I’m guessing, on the advice of Lusk/Slater, cried ‘fraud!’ and complained to the Serious Fraud Office.
In fact, the answer to where the members’ dues goes is right in front of you when you look at the annual report (and, if you don’t get it there, it’s all explained on the Union’s ‘about us‘ page). The Union is divided into four autonomous regional bodies that collect the members’ dues and basically run their own affairs, employ and pay their own staff, administer their own strike funds, handle their own disputes, etc. The incorporated society is just there to run the national office and receives about a buck per week per members from the regional branches to fund its activities (there’s actually a nice history page on the Meatworkers’ website explaining the history behind why it is set up this way). Meat Workers Inc doesn’t include the regional branches.
So, when you look at the Meat Workers Inc annual report, you’re not seeing the whole union. You’re just seeing the 3-person national office that the regional branches each chip in a little to pay for. It’s all laid out with the capitation payments from each regional branch and exactly what the money is spent on (for the record, the Secretary of the Union gets $80K a year, and the other staff in the $40K range). Any fool could see that, but apparently not Slater/Lusk, or they wouldn’t have advised Talleys to try to smear the Union in such a blatantly stupid manner.
It took the media about 30 minutes to turn this from a story of ‘discrepancies in union books?’ to ‘Talleys tries to smear union’. All Slater/Lusk have succeeded in doing is turning the media off Talleys’ spin (which is why we so love having these two chumps in the game and playing for the other team). The couple of outlets that did just run the Talleys line at first will be the most pissed off for being made to look stupid and no journo will risk looking like a moron again by running Talleys lines.
Ok. I’m just about finished taking the piss out of our favourite useless tories for now but I can’t let these two points slide.
I love that corporates are still hiring Slater/Lusk. First, they cocked up the PoAL dispute (and are now slagging off the board of that company in their posts). Now, they’re cocking up their smears of the Meatworkers and turning the media off Talleys. These two are some of the best weapons the workers have.
Keep it up, lads.
[PS Slater/Lusk’s smears haven’t been confined to the Meatworkers. For instance, they also allege that the holiday homes owned by the PSA are only accessed by the ‘union bosses’ (whoever they are). In fact, as any PSA member knows, you can book one of these holiday homes at reasonable rates, although demand is strong. The Police Association and the Army, among other organisations, also have holiday homes for members to rent. They’re a bit of an anachronism these days but they’ve long paid for themselves and it’s nice that some members can get a cheaper rent for a holiday and just cover maintainence etc.]
[PPS. You might ask where the regional branches’ accounts are. Well, they’re not legally required to be Incs like the national office is, and they aren’t. So, they have no public reporting requirement. Just like a private company. Just like Talleys, in fact. Which is a pity because because I would love to see Talleys’ line for smear merchants.]