Union Infighting Over Pennsylvania Pension System Scandal

AFT Pennsylvania called for the resignations of most of the board of the state school employees pension system amid allegations of dubious investments, lack of transparency and funny math.

A federal grand jury is investigating the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) “looking for evidence of kickbacks or bribery” and “potential concealment of material information,” according to reports.

“Through alleged errors and omissions, and under a shroud of secrecy, this PSERS Board appears to have jeopardized the present and future financial security of our Commonwealth’s most dedicated public servants,” wrote Arthur Steinberg, president of AFT Pennsylvania, in a letter to PSERS board members.

The union wants the pension board’s staff to be fired as well.

But AFT Pennsylvania is much smaller than the state’s dominant school employees union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association. PSEA has made no such demand, and in fact said that while it was disappointed in the situation, the union believed “PSERS complied with the law,” according to reports.

Why such different reactions from the two teachers unions? It may have something to do with the fact that no one on the pension system’s board is associated with AFT Pennsylvania, while five board members have close ties to PSEA.

“We would welcome the opportunity to participate in an open and transparent process to appoint new members of the Board,” wrote Steinberg to the board.

So while the pension system’s operations go up in flames, one union is downplaying the issue in an effort to protect its activists on the board, while the other union wants the board and staff summarily removed (What? No due process?) in order to get its own representatives appointed. No wonder it’s a mess.


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