Union Labor Life Insurance Company
Robert Georgine Recounts J for Jobs' Success
Putting Union Pension Money to Work
Robert A. Georgine, chairman, president and chief executive officer of ULLICO Inc., has done many impressive, innovative things throughout his career. But one that he is especially proud of is championing the highly successful J for Jobs account.
Now in its twenty–third year of providing tax–exempt pension plans a sound means to invest in a portfolio of high–quality mortgages, the account began its existence humbly enough with one participant: the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Pension Fund.
"It was a modest start," noted Georgine, "but I had a lot of faith in the merits of such an account. Something that made good money for pension funds and helped employ union workers at the same time was something very easy to get behind," he said. "At the time, there was a lot of money invested in union pension accounts that wasn't being used in ways that helped union workers, and unemployment was high. Why not put the money to work helping union workers and businesses at the same time."
Also president emeritus of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL–CIO, Georgine has made a habit of getting behind inventive programs, and has earned a well-deserved reputation at the same time. "Bob is one of the best-kept secrets of the American labor movement. He's widely respected in the construction industry as a man willing to go the extra mile," said John Sweeney, AFL-CIO President. "As chairman and CEO of ULLICO, he's known in financial circles as a tough-minded businessman who knows how to put labor's capital assets to work for the people who created them."
Even before taking the reins at ULLICO, Georgine saw the J for Jobs program as a way to put union pension money to work creating union jobs. On that score, he had already sponsored a series of meetings around the country to discuss how pension funds could be used more responsibly, and the J for Jobs program was a natural fit. After becoming head of ULLICO Inc. in 1990, he was in a position to steward the program to its current level of achievement.
Starting out in 1977 as a modest $5–million account, J for Jobs has grown exponentially and now manages $1.4 billion from 184 participating trust funds. Benchmark years include 1984, with an account size of $135 million; 1987, with $393 million; 1995, with $738 million; and 1998, when the fund broke the billion–dollar mark at $1.1 billion. Since inception, the account has generated over 40,000 full-time construction jobs. As Georgine envisioned at its inception, the account is still creating jobs for union workers and organized contractors, while providing investors with above-market returns.
"I am very proud of my involvement with J for Jobs," Georgine stated. "As CEO of the company that manages the assets entrusted to it, I want to make sure that the rate of return for this account is solid. As a member of the labor union movement, I am most gratified to see union workers gainfully employed because of a program I've had a hand in creating."
Today, J for Jobs is widely recognized in the marketplace as one of the premier construction/mortgage funds in America. With $1.4 billion of investing power, it will play a major role in the financing of new construction projects around the country for many years to come. From its whisper of a start 23 years ago, J for Jobs has come of age.
Herb Elam hasn't forgotten the cold winter nights lying in the snow, breaking loose frozen brake drums on big diesel trucks with his half–frozen hands. He hasn't forgotten going home and soaking in a hot bathtub to get the chill out of his aching back and knees. Most of all, he hasn't forgotten that the union members he now represents are still doing those things, and trusting him to make the right decisions with their hard-earned pension fund money.
"I was a diesel mechanic at Yellow Freight before I took this job in 1986," said Elam, now directing business representative of the Automobile Mechanics' Local 701 with the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers. "I've never forgotten what it's like to do the job. Knowing how hard our folks work for the money that's invested on their behalf keeps me very motivated."
Local 701, located in the Greater Chicago area, now boasts 12,000 members: 8,000 active and 4,000 retired. The jointly managed trust fund representing the union has had Trust Fund Advisors, Inc. (TFA), as part of their investment team since June, 1994. According to Elam, TFA is the local's top performing asset manager, and never forgets the working men and women who ante up their money, either. That's one thing that stands out with Elam.
"I think TFA, because of its unique historical union affiliation, understands labor better than other investment companies. Most union trustees come out of the shop. They never had time to go to school and learn about diversified portfolios and other topics related to finance and investment," he said. "TFA understands this. Its people don't come in talking over our heads. They help educate our trustees on the important issues. That's something unique, and that's one of the things that makes the company special."
But it's not the only thing.
"Greg Gosney [senior vice president and national sales manager], TFA's representative that we deal with, has three things that union members value above all else: honesty, integrity, and loyalty," added Elam. "Put those traits together with a company that has a union-oriented history and some of the best [investment] numbers in the country, and it only makes good sense to have them as part of our investment team."
Gosney sees the relationship as a two-way street. "It's a pleasure working with the trustees of Local 701's trust fund, because they are so enthusiastic about what they're doing," he said. "Herb and the other union trustees, and employer trustees like Bruce Rosenquist, are all working together to see that their folks get the best return on their investment possible. Caring for our client is easy when you have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for the trustees on a personal, individual level."
While a strong union heritage is a selling point for TFA, Elam knows that the bottom line is the bottom line. "The first and foremost obligation to the participants of the plan is the plan itself," he said. "TFA has the numbers to back up the other things, and at least for Local 701, doing business with TFA and its people is a no-brainer."
Grover McKean, a well-regarded financial executive with an extensive Wall Street background, has joined ULLICO Inc. as senior vice president, Investment Services. He also serves as president of Trust Fund Advisors, Inc. (TFA), ULLICO's SEC-registered investment advisor.
"Grover McKean brings top-level financial management experience to our company, having served as a general partner of two prestigious international banking houses, L. F. Rothschild and Lazard Freres & Company," said Company Chairman, President and CEO Robert Georgine. "Add to that his prior experience as both assistant state treasurer and deputy state treasurer of California, and we are fortunate, indeed, to have attracted someone of his caliber to our company."
Before joining ULLICO, McKean was president of Capital Influx, a financial management firm based in Los Angeles, California. He also serves on the board of directors of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles and on the Loyola Marymount University Board of Regents.
Also in Investment Services, Greg Gosney was named senior vice president and national sales manager of TFA; Herb Kolben was named vice president. real estate investment banking, Union Labor Life; Joe Linehan was named vice president, private capital, Union Labor Life, and Cathy Humphrey was named vice president, marketing, TFA.
In other appointments:
Jerome Pollock to president of Zenith Administrators
John Locke to senior vice president and general manager, Zenith's western division
Therese Bracken to vice president and corporate controller, ULLICO Inc.
Brian Fillipo, M.D., to vice president, managed care and medical director, Union Labor Life
Gary Henson to vice president and chief information officer, Union Labor Life
Robert Logue to vice president, Group Underwriting, Union Labor Life
Patrick Montgomery to vice president, Finance, Union Labor Life
Jacquelyn Nunez to vice president, Group Operations, Union Labor Life
Laborers' O'Sullivan, HERE's Wilhelm Elected to the ULLICO Inc. Board of Directors
Terrence M. O'Sullivan and John W. Wilhelm have been elected to the ULLICO Inc. Board of Directors by the company's stockholders.
O'Sullivan, general president of Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), also serves as a vice president of the AFL-CIO Executive Council. LIUNA, a diverse union representing more than 800,000 members, primarily serves workers in the areas of construction, hazardous waste remediation, health care, maintenance, food service, clerical, state and municipal government, and postal service. O'Sullivan has been general president since January of this year. Prior to his election, he served LIUNA as vice president, mid-Atlantic regional manager, and assistant to the general president.
Wilhelm is general president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE) and also serves as an AFL-CIO Executive Council vice president. HERE currently has over 300,000 members working in the hospitality industry and has been organized since 1891. A member of HERE since 1969, Wilhelm was elected general president in August 1998. From 1996 until his election as general president, he served as HERE general secretary-treasurer.
Award-winning producer/director Tony DeNonno has teamed with film stars John Turturro and Michael Badalucco to create "Heaven Touches Brooklyn in July," a documentary film following the ancient Italian tradition of the Dance of the Giglio (pronounced Jill-yo). ULLICO Inc. is underwriting a major portion of the production, which is expected to air later this year on most public broadcasting stations across the country.
The film follows the 1,650–year history of the festival–style celebration, from its inception in the ancient Italian city of Nola to the current–day ritual performed by Italian–Americans in the United States. The production incorporates rare historical film footage, folk music, and interviews spanning the twentieth century.
"ULLICO has become involved in this worthwhile project for several reasons," noted Bob Georgine, ULLICO chairman, president and CEO. "It is a film about the common men and women of our nation, people who have blended the traditions of their ancestors with the hopes and dreams that life in America offers. It is very much a story of the working men and women that the ULLICO group of companies strives to assist and support."
DeNonno has produced, written, and directed over three dozen documentary films, which have been broadcast on every major American television network. His films have won numerous Outstanding Film of the Year awards at the American, New York, London, Los Angeles, Australian, and San Francisco film festivals. Cited as one of the nation's top documentary filmmakers, DeNonno has had his films placed in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.
Turturro, who along with Badalucco, will narrate the production, has appeared in a myriad of feature films including The Source, Cradle Will Rock, The Big Lebowski, and Quiz Show. His latest film is The Luzhin Defense, which will be released later this year.
Badalucco, who has acted in such memorable films as Raging Bull and Sleepless In Seattle, is currently starring in the hit television series "The Practice."
The film tells the story of Italian immigrants who settled in Brooklyn, New York, while continuing the ancient festival known as the Dance of the Giglio. The festival, which has become immensely popular over the years, culminates with 125 men carrying a five–ton platform on their shoulders, with a five–story, hand–sculpted tower and a 15–piece brass band on it as they dance their way through festival revelers. The celebration, which honors San Paolino, the patron saint of Nola, Italy, has become one of the most enduring testaments to family, folk art, and faith in modern America.
"The film is about teamwork, dedication, and honor," said DeNonno. "It holds all the celebration, uplift, and bonding qualities of a triumphant championship team.
It is about rites of passage as the men who carry the monument work their way up through the hierarchy in the name of their families and of the ancient tradition of the Dance."