Indiana Unions OK With PE

Union members of the Indiana Public Employee’s Retirement Fund are keeping quiet on the pension’s investments in private equity funds, said Shawn Wischmeier, CIO of PERF, during the opening interview of PE Networking Chicago.

PERF began it’s private equity program in 2002, though it didn’t really kick into gear until Wischmeier’s arrival in 2006. Nonetheless, the investments PERF did make in its early days have so far provided solid enough returns that unions aren’t criticising the fund, which aims to allocate 8% to private equity. “Things have been very quiet,” Wischmeier said, when a conference attendee asked if unions there were applying any pressure. “They usually don’t ask questions.”

This at a time when organized labor, particularly the Service Employees International Union, is stepping up its criticism of the Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and other headline-grabbing firms–just see the video the SEIU recently commissioned featuring comedian Lewis Black lambasting KKR at a diner counter.

A common retort from the private equity industry is that many of its benificiaries are, in fact, unions. It seems the unions in Indiana–for now, at least–are content
to enjoy the returns generated by private equity firms.