Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Weingarten Village On Hold

The NY Sun reports that Randi Weingarten and the UFT have pulled back their support from a low-cost housing project that was supposed to provide 200 affordable apartments for educators because the project is using non-union labor.

The low-cost housing project was a partnership between New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, the New York City Housing Development Corporation, and the city's teacher pension fund.

After being informed by construction unions that the developer of the project, Atlantic Development Group, was using non-union workers, Weingarten requested that the Teacher' Retirement System get back the $28 million Weingarten anted up for the project.

Weingarten says that her support for the project was contingent upon the developer using union labor to build it, but after contacting Atlantic Development Group to discuss the allegations that non-union labor was being used to build the project, she became convinced she had been "materially misled."

The UFT plans to picket the development site today. The project may not be completely dead, however. Comptroller Thompson says he supports adding union labor to the project so that the development can "move forward."

Couple of things here:

Why is the UFT using the teacher pension fund to get into the real estate business? With pension funds across the country in danger of going belly-up as a result of the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the housing bubble burst (see this Bloomberg News article here about the latest victim to the crisis - the Florida public employees pension fund), shouldn't the pension fund be used only for safe investment vehicles that will ensure decent returns?

2. Why is the UFT using the teacher pension fund to build apartment buildings that are supposed to provide low-cost apartments for teachers when most teachers make too much money to actually qualify to live in them when the project is finished?

I'm glad to hear that Weingarten is pulling back support from the project now that she "knows" that non-union labor is being used to build it, but I still don't understand why she agreed to this "Weingarten Village" project in the first place.

The only thing I can figure is that she sees the teacher pension fund and the UFT Welfare Fund as her own little kitty for whatever whimsical ideas and/or business ventures come to mind.
blog comments powered by Disqus