A recent U.S Court of Appeals ruling found several National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) union officials guilty of violating the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. The decision resolved a 1994 suit brought by David Noble, a postal worker who alleged union officials -- including a former NALC president -- funneled workers' dues into unmonitored expense accounts.
Judge Williams' concurrence features some particularly choice tidbits on the NALC's corrupt practices:
"Placing union money in the officers’ hands, solely on those same officers’ bland assurances that it will be used for union business, completely subverts the [NALC constitution] clause’s obvious goal of preserving accountability."
He also chides his two colleagues on the panel for refusing to punish union officials for excessive "per diem" expenditures:
At every biennial convention after 1964, a small group of unnamed delegates received a “per diem” payment calculated on the basis of certain estimated expenses: lost wages, hotel rooms, and meals and incidentals. Noble argued in the district court that the presidentially appointed Committee on Mileage and Per Diem asked each post-1964 convention to approve these payments without informing the delegates of two facts: (1) that the union’s officers were among those receiving per diem payments, even though they continued to earn their salaries and thus had no “lost time” (unlike rank-and-file mail carriers); and (2) that the union had already paid (in full or part) for most officers’ hotel rooms, transferring the union’s hotel discount to the officers’ benefit. Thus, the members were unaware of these costs’ peculiarities — peculiarities that might well have been material to their decision.
While the ruling is welcomed, the fact remains that regulatory oversight of unions -- rather than simply stripping union bosses of the government-granted special privileges that facilitate the corruption -- results in little more than make-work for federal bureaucrats.