Over a fifteen-year stretch ending in 2006, GM poured $55 billion into its workers' pension plan, compared to only $13 billion that it paid out in dividends.
From Lowenstein's While America Aged. It's a really good read, in that it highlights the problem of unions and pensions. Its easy to give pensions to unions to buy peace, putting the problem off on future generations. In the UAW, the pensioners vote, even though they aren't working, so these demands for pensions aren't going away. After all, most senior management won't be around in 10 years. Bankruptcy seems the only logical outcome. Another reason why the Detroit auto industry is doomed.
But the book also goes into how especially pernicious this is in the public sector, because there, the union workers can vote out politicians who don't protect, if not increase, these non-cash benefits.
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