teachers unions philadelphia

Union bosses or real estate moguls? Tracking the PFT’s finances

Originally published at Center Square

One reason Philadelphia workers may choose – or feel compelled – to join a union is the promise of access to special funds to cover healthcare expenses. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers runs one such fund called the Teacher’s Health and Welfare Fund. The structure is fairly straightforward.

First, the union establishes a trust with funding primarily from the employer, which in this case is the Philadelphia School District. Those funds are then distributed to public employees as health and insurance benefits via PFT’s fund. The PFT established their benefit fund in 1971, and their collective bargaining agreement with the school district provides for the district to make annual taxpayer-funded contributions to it.

At their best, these kinds of trusts can be efficient ways for unions to deliver health benefits to workers. But PFT’s Health and Welfare Fund has become a case study in how money meant to help workers can be mismanaged to cover up union bosses’ bad deals, leaving hardworking teachers out in the cold.

Read more at Center Square