The consultants who advise employers on how to avert union organizing or collective bargaining demands soon may have to reveal a good deal more about themselves and their operations. This past Tuesday, June 21, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), to the delight of labor officials, published a proposal in the Federal Register to expand the circumstances forcing companies to disclose information about their advisers. Because the rule change would not apply to union consultants, it appears to be motivated heavily by politics.
Readers of Union Corruption Update may have noticed something recently: a shortage of references to criminal investigations by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). That's not a figment of the imagination. The main source of these references - the OLMS website - hasn't been updated in at least three months; the most recent posting concerned a guilty plea entered on March 8. This may well be part of a larger strategy to restrict the flow of information to NLPC and other organizations dedicated to promoting union accountability. Organized labor, after all, is a key source of support for President Obama. And given that knowledge is power, it follows that the less the public knows about labor corruption, the more likely it will flourish. The current administration doesn't want to be on the wrong side of union power.
The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor, performs a thankless, but necessary task:keeping the nation’s unions honest.Congressional Democrats, many of them beholden to campaign contributions from organized labor, understandably have no more need for the agency than do their benefactors.And now both houses have approved respective spending bills that would reduce agency funding.Back in July, the House of Representatives, as part of a larger appropriations bill, rejected by 186-237 an amendment offered by John Kline, R-Minn., to restore OLMS funding to last year’s level.The vote effectively set the office’s fiscal 2008 budget at $45.7 million, down from $47.8 million in fiscal 2007.Now the Senate has endorsed the House bill, and by a razor-thin margin.On October 18, lawmakers voted 46-47 to reject an eleventh-hour amendment introduced by Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that would have restored the OLMS budget to last year’s level, and added another $3 million.
Those who read this publication soon enough come across the acronym, “OLMS” – as in the Office of Labor-Management Standards.It’s the agency within the U.S. Department of Labor that processes union financial disclosure forms, and where necessary, investigates irregularities.It’s a relatively low-cost way to keep union bosses, employees and associates honest.But the Democrat-controlled 110th Congress, not unexpectedly, is on the verge of clipping its wings.Almost all union political spending – and lots of it – goes to Democratic candidates or party committees.On Tuesday night, July 17, the House of Representatives voted 237-186 to reject an amendment sponsored by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., to restore a cut in OLMS funding to the overall Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education fiscal 2008 appropriations bill (H.R. 3043).The current OLMS budget is $47.8 million; the approved measure would reduce that sum to $45.7 million.That might not seem much of a cut, but it should be put into context.
The Internet may be one of the best things ever to happen to public transparency.That’s why the Department of Labor now requires unions to file their annual financial reports online.Presumably, union members and the general public benefit.
It may not have been an actual empire over which the Duff family presided in their native Chicago.But it was hardly a Mom-and-Pop operation either.Family patriarch John Duff, Jr., his wife Patricia, and their sons had grown wealthy over the decades, having cultivated ties both to City Hall and the underworld.But the past few years have seen the Duffs fall upon hard times, after lengthy investigations by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) and Office of Inspector General, plus the FBI and the IRS.The most important chapter may have been closed in U.S. District Court this May 18-20, with the sentencing of four persons for fraud, money laundering and racketeering.
On May 12, Amanda Kemmer, ex-secretary for Bricklayers Local 3 in the Des Moines area, was given a 24-month prison sentence plus three years probation, and was ordered to pay full restitution for embezzling union funds.Kemmer pleaded guilty last December in federal court to stealing more than $209,000 over the period January 1997-April 2004.She’d pocketed about $175,000 of that by using a rubber stamp to write herself checks, and raked in the rest by altering pay stubs and pilfering cash.(OLMS, 5/27).
With the addition of a unit in the Ofc. of Labor Mgmt. Standards (OLMS), labor dept. officials are now prepared to more closely scrutinize intl. unions' compliance with fed. financial accounting laws.making up for steady cuts in OLMS staff during the Clinton admin.According to its budget request for FY 2005, OLMS staff fell from 425 in FY 1985 to 242 in FY 2001.One of the consequences of that decline is that 10 of the nation's largest unions have never been audited by OLMS.
"Meanwhile, the office that oversees union financial reporting was gutted during the Clinton administration. The Office of Labor Management Standards was reduced from 431 employees in 1992 to just 260 in 2001. Its budget dropped from $ 33 million in 1997 -- the start of Clinton's second term -- to $ 30.6 million in 2001. Not surprisingly, effective oversight suffered. Compliance audits dipped from 800 in 1992 to just 238 last year, and criminal convictions during the same period fell from 177 to 101." -- Sam Dealey, National Review, Dec. 6, 2002