The Nat’l Legal & Policy Ctr., a union corruption watchdog, filed a petition with the Dep’t of Labor May 20 requesting that DOL initiate a rulemaking to amend and expand its reporting and disclosure regulations under the Labor-Management Reporting & Disclosure Act of 1959. The 40-page legal document makes a strong case that DOL’s existing regulations don’t do enough to protect the rights of members and the integrity of union treasuries. As recently as 2000, for instance, some 34% of unions failed to file or filed the statutorily required annual financial reports late. Also, NLPC found union corruption in 40 of the 68 AFL-CIO affiliated unions (59%) and in 41 of the 50 States and D.C. (80%) within the last two years. Equally disturbing, NLPC found that some $33.4 million in restitution has been paid or ordered to be paid as the result of union embezzlements and closely related crimes over the last ten years in which data was available.
NLPC’s petition proposed five reforms to enhance union transparency, increase information available to union members, and better inform union members of their rights. First, it proposed that DOL make more regular use of its statutory right to file civil suits to enjoin violations of LMRDA’s reporting requirements. Second, it recommended revising the existing annual report forms (i.e., LM-2s) to include functional reporting and itemized schedules. Third, it recommended that DOL require unions to meet accounting standards in their preparation of their reports. Fourth, the petition suggested efficient procedures for DOL’s much anticipated Internet disclosure system. Finally, it proposed that DOL required unions to notify their members when they file their annual reports and how to access the reports.
“These modest reforms are long overdue given the wave of union corruption in America today,” said NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm. “As the petition demonstrates, each of these five reforms is well within the Department’s grant of authority under the LMRDA. It’s a shame the past Labor Deparments have not made full use of this authority from Congress to better protect all who suffer the consequences of union corruption.”