You Bet Your Life

The National Education Association isn't getting much love these days from Washington, D.C., or Washington State. Last month, the union's Evergreen State affiliate, the W.E.A., was told by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court that--to make a long story short--it couldn't snatch money from non-members for political purposes (George Will explains it). Now the N.E.A. is having more legal troubles in the Pacific Northwest: a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma claims that the union received kickbacks to support high-fee retirement plans. Two financial firms--Nationwide Life Insurance Company and the Security Benefit Group--have purportedly paid millions to the N.E.A., and the union (coincidence?) has endorsed for its members the high-fee plans of both companies. An attorney for the plaintiffs claims that unions "should be endorsing plans because they're good plans, not because they're paid money to endorse those plans." You say the N.E.A. represents the interests of teachers? Don't bet on it.

"Lawsuit Says Teachers Are Overcharged on Annuities," by Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times, July 17, 2007

"School workers sue over retirement plan," by Gene Johnson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 17, 2007  

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