As president and managing director of the AFL-CIO’s Investment Trust Corp. (ITC), Michael Stotz often gets to dispel the myth that investing in union-built and -serviced construction projects results in measly returns.
“I get the opportunity to say, ‘no, quite frankly it’s the contrary,’” Stotz said during a speech Feb. 22 at the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO executive board meeting in Orlando. “We have skilled workers, we have excellent contractors. We see that as a strength and we do it day-in and day-out.”
The truth, he added, is investing in union-built and –serviced projects not only brings about impressive returns, but also provides thousands of workers with union jobs and the good pay and benefits that come with them. In short, everybody wins.
And he has the numbers to prove it. His organization – which coordinates with the pension community to fund those union projects – currently has more than $1.6 billion worth of new projects in the pipeline and is raking in record returns on its investments. Those projects include everything from a $420 million building in New York City to undertakings in places as far away as Chicago, Seattle and Minneapolis.
“Right now the (ITC’s) Building Investment Trust has more projects in construction or under development than any time in the history of the program,” Stotz said. “Experts have said our portfolio is very well-balanced and in great shape.”
That’s good news, he added, for union workers as well.
“Today, across the country, thousands of union members are working because of active Building Investment Trust construction projects,” Stotz said. “Once those jobs are completed, every service and maintenance jobs in those buildings will be union. Those service contracts will ensure permanent union jobs long into the future.”
Pointing to these facts, Stotz said the labor movement could have an even bigger political and economic impact if it decided to invest more in such projects. If just 10 percent of the more than $4 trillion sitting in public and private union pension funds across America was leveraged for similar projects, Stotz said more union jobs would be created and the world – especially enemies of the labor movement – would take notice of the success.
“They are already paying close attention, hoping that we fail,” Stotz said. “Our projects and our jobs are only limited by our ability to secure union pension dollars.”
The result, Stotz added, would be a victory for the labor movement, union workers and the country’s overall economy.
“What better case could you make for the power of solidarity?” he said.