Opinion: ‘How’s your work?’



In the building trades, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “How’s your work?”

It’s always asked because when work is good, members are able to provide for their family, and pay into their training, health and welfare funds, pension funds, and their local union. Putting members to work on safe job sites, with good wages and benefits is the first job of union leaders.

At a time in our Country when unions are under constant attack, it’s especially important for unions and fund trustees to understand, and leverage, the immense economic power of their pension funds to create the projects that help provide that work.

What if I told you, at Ullico, we have investment platforms that take union pension fund dollars and invest them in a way that creates those jobs for union members and contractors?


To date, in our J for Jobs Fund, one of our investment platforms, Ullico has invested more than $12 Billion of union pension funds, an investment that has already created over 600 million work hours for union members in 425 communities across America. And if you multiply the economic ripple of those dollars being spent in local communities, union pension fund investments have created millions in additional dollars in economic spending.

Now that’s putting your pension dollars to work — for you, for your family, for your community.

The success of our investment platforms underscores the importance of the principles that we both embody – when unions invest in themselves, they help create jobs for their members.

The concept of unions investing in themselves is not a new idea. The building trades have long operated their own funds, understanding the importance of investing in training, health care, and pensions for members after a lifetime of work.

This is the same principle – when union pension funds utilize Ullico’s investment platforms, they are assured the jobs created with the investment will be 100 percent union in construction and maintenance – 100 percent of the time.


Now is a great time for union pension funds to consider making these type of investments, as the need to rebuild our cities and the nation’s infrastructure has moved to the forefront of conversations at the State and National level. The sense of urgency for infrastructure renewal was highlighted by the water issues in Flint, Michigan, and the poor condition of bridges and highways throughout the Country.

What’s clear is that traditional funding methods are no longer sufficient to fund the immense needs that have been identified. As the State and Federal governments look to alternative methods to finance infrastructure projects, public-private-partnerships (commonly called P3s) are increasingly discussed as an attractive option.

Sound investments providing sound returns providing union construction workers with jobs, that’s the Ullico way.

Now is the time to ask your pension fund trustees to take a look at investment opportunities with Ullico.


Ullico is a 100 percent union owned insurance and investment company.

Our history tells a uniquely American success story, about a union company born of necessity, nurtured by strong leadership, tested through the great depression, economic downturns, and constant challenges to the Labor Movement, to not only survive 90 years of business – but to flourish.

We have been successful because quality never goes out of style. Our legacy of valuing workers, mirrors that of the Union Movement we serve.

(Ed Smith is president and chief executive officer of Ullico, the union Labor life insurance and investment company. A member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) since he was 13, Smith was elected business manager of Laborer’s Local 773 at age 21 and later became international union vice president and Midwest regional manager serving over 58,000 members. He also served as assistant to the general president, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Investment, chairman of the National Alliance for Fair Contracting, and as a member of the Illinois Department of Labor Advisory Board.)


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