Lew Leone is the vice president and general manager of WNYW-FOX 5. He is taking to the airwaves with his thoughts on current affairs. It's called "Lew's View." The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.
In this edition, Mr. Lew Leone comments on Jon Corzine's ties to unions and the bankruptcy of his firm, MF Global.
How's this for irony?
When Jon Corzine was governor of New Jersey, there was nothing he wouldn't do for organized labor. His roots with unions were deep, and well known.
His ex-live-in girlfriend, Carla Katz, was president of the state workers union.
He helped shield the state's powerful unions -- workers, teachers, law enforcement -- from proposed cuts to pensions and salaries.
Corzine worked the backrooms with the bosses -- and he gave plenty -- seeding boards and cabinet posts with labor leaders in exchange for their loyalty and support.
What a difference a few years makes.
The pension funds for two unions -- a Connecticut-based IBEW local and the Plumbers and Pipefitters from Missouri -- are suing Corzine, his top executives, and several banks. They are claiming that Corzine's bankrupt MF Global sold them bonds but never told of the risk involved.
These unions are small, representing hard-working folks who trusted Corzine's company and their financial advisors to guard their precious nest eggs. Now, they and thousands of other people must rely on the courts to try and recoup their losses; $1.2 billion is missing. These pension funds may be the tip of the iceberg.
Do we think that Corzine traded on his favorable union relationships to woo the lucrative pension investments from the unions? Realistically, there are many people -- bankers, investment advisors, in-between --whose job it is to recommend firms, to guard and grow the money. It might be impossible to prove that Corzine himself made the pitch.
But it couldn't hurt that he was the president of MF Global. And he had to know where the money was coming from, and what the risk would be to his former friends and allies.
Jon Corzine used union clout to get elected and now he is repaying groups like the Pipefitters from Missouri with nothing but a monkey wrench.
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