Obama Administration seems primed to make it easier for union bosses to hide lucrative perks from rank-and-file workers
Washington, DC (March 9, 2009) – Prompted by a Rahm Emanuel directive on Inauguration Day, the U.S. Department of Labor seems ready to discard new union disclosure rules developed over two years by the previous administration.
In response, the National Right to Work Foundation has submitted comments urging the Department to maintain or strengthen rules aimed at curbing union boss corruption.
In late January, the Department of Labor announced that it was considering changes to recently revised LM-2 disclosure guidelines, which require unions to list the specific compensation – financial or otherwise – of individual union officers and to name all parties involved in any union-related transactions. Unions routinely spend millions of dollars on staff compensation, purchases unrelated to collective bargaining, and lavish perks for top union officials. The disclosure requirements are intended to ensure that dues-paying workers have some idea what they’re paying for.
Although Right to Work litigators have previously criticized LM-2 guidelines for not going far enough (the regulations still allow union officials to obscure questionable expenditures through a glaring secrecy loophole), the Foundation recognizes that some financial disclosure is better than none.
As Right to Work President Mark Mix noted in the Foundation’s formal comments, union members and workers forced to pay union dues have the right to know where their money is going:
“Does the Secretary believe that hardworking Americans would be better off if embezzlement and self-enrichment is made easier for men such as these? Isn’t it better to err on the side of a little more disclosure, than to allow crooks another place on the LM-2 to hide millions of hard-earned dollars?”
Moreover, the Department of Labor only solicited outside comments on the LM-2 revisions for an extremely short 30 day period. The Department also refused the Foundation’s request to extend the window for public comments from workers, unions, and other concerned organizations.
“The Administration is threatening to scrap two years of public comment, deliberation, and carefully crafted disclosure guidelines simply because Big Labor wants them to,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Such an action would betray Obama’s promise to increase transparency and only serves union bosses, not workers.”