U.S. Dist. Judge Gladys Kessler (D.C., Clinton) has cleared away the AFL-CIO’s last gasp attempt to escape the reformed financial disclosure forms they and the nation’s wealthiest unions must file with the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Last Jan., Kessler ordered that the revised LM-2 forms take effect, either on July 1, 2004, or 90 days after DOL made available a “fully tested version” of the computer program for filling out the new form.
After DOL released the software to unions on Mar. 26, the AFL-CIO claimed that the program was not “fully tested,” and that the new reporting requirements — among them the disclosure of political spending — should not take effect on July 1. On July 13, Judge Kessler pointed out that unions whose FY begins on July 1 have had 6 mos. to prepare for the new forms. She also wrote that DOL “has responded in detail” to the AFL-CIO’s complaints about the computer program’s functionality. In “light of the Department’s expertise in this area, it is appropriate to give the DOL’s explanations an ‘extreme degree of deference,'” she concluded. [AFL-CIO v. Chao, U.S. Dist. Ct., D.C., Civ. Act. 03-2464, 7/13/04]