March 17, 2014 By: Mark Glennon
Last week we wrote about the liability issues raised by the “enemies list,” as Bloomberg called it, whereby the American Federation of Teachers seeks to muzzle financial firms and people engaged in First Amendment protected speech the union doesn’t like. The AFT recently expanded the list to target supporters of the ‘Illinois is Broke’ campaign, including Aon Corp and Chicago’s GTCR.
Pension & Investments, a sister publication of Crain’s, has a further story today in which they say AFT President Randi Weingarten says “the union is not suggesting action be taken by boards of trustees.” Read the report yourself and see how honest you think that is. It purports to explain at length why and when trustees can and should take action. It brags about past success. Read our original piece and the links to earlier reporting on the actual effects of the list. Judge for yourself.
Pension & Investments goes on to say:
The $176.2 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System, West Sacramento, was the highest profile pension fund with a quick reaction to [the initial version of the AFT report]. Following its release, CEO Jack Ehnes sent it to CalSTRS’ investment committee.
The committee “has registered a heightened level of concern about the situation. Our investment staff has been in communication with the impacted managers and continues to closely monitor this development,” said CalSTRS spokesman Ricardo Duran in an e-mail.
When a state instrumentality does the dirty work of enforcing an effort by a private sector group like the AFT to squash First Amendment protected speech and political activity, as P&I indicates that CalSTRS did, that triggers the legal issues we described in our earlier article, not to mention obvious questions about breech of fiduciary duty by pension trustees.
Any law student who made it to second year should see the scandal in this, yet our local media are ignoring it, with the minor exception of a Crain’s reprint of an earlier Pension & Investments article.