Charter Flights Shadow Union Election
Lucrative compensation packages and the use of chartered jets by the departing head of the nation's biggest public-sector union are looming as key issues in a contentious election to fill his position later this month.
Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, traveled by chartered aircraft 18 times since the beginning of 2010, at a cost of about $325,000, according to internal union expense reports viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. McEntee, a powerful figure in the labor movement and Washington politics, announced last year that he would retire this month after 30 years as president of the union, which has been particularly hit by state and local government layoffs.
In an election scheduled for June 21, Mr. McEntee's hand-picked successor, Lee Saunders, the union's secretary-treasurer, faces challenger Danny Donohue, president of Afscme Local 1000 in New York. Mr. Donohue's campaign has seized on Mr. McEntee's air travel to indirectly criticize Mr. Saunders, who oversees the union's finances.
The union, which represents government workers ranging from clerical staff to probation officers and school-bus drivers, has been hit by tight state budgets and lawmakers who have pared public payrolls and scaled back benefits.
Mr. McEntee earned a salary of $387,671 in 2011, according to a government filing.