Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bad year for unions so far

A nonprofit organization founded by California’s largest union local reported spending nothing on its charitable purpose — to develop housing for low-income workers — during at least two of the four years it has been operating, federal records show.

The charity, launched by a scandal-ridden Los Angeles chapter of the Service Employees International Union, had total expenses of about $165,000 for 2005 and 2006, and all of the money went to consulting fees, insurance costs and other overhead, according to its Internal Revenue Service filings. Charity watchdogs say that nonprofits should never have zero program expenses in two successive years and that well-performing charities direct at least 70% of their annual spending to their charitable purpose. “Of the 5,000-plus charities we’ve looked at, I don’t think we’ve ever seen one that didn’t spend anything on its charitable programs,” said Sandra Miniutti, vice president of Charity Navigator, an online rating service.

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