Obama Set to Block Labor Department Transparency Rules

President Barack Obama frequently has vowed to make ethics in government a top priority. On January 21, his first full day in office, he announced, “Let me say it as clearly as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” He had timed his words to coincide with separate executive orders that froze the pay of White House officials whose salaries exceeded $100,000, imposed gift bans on political appointees, and restricted lobbyists’ access to government jobs.  Yet this “new era of openness,” as the president termed it, apparently hasn’t extended to oversight of supportive organizations – like labor unions.

On February 3, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) stated that it would impose a 60-day delay on implementing a final rule issued during the waning days of the Bush administration. The action was based on a memorandum signed on January 20, Inauguration Day, … Read More ➡

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Will Trump Labor Department Follow Through on Preventing Union Corruption?

The Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, as NLPC readers well know, has identified and helped prosecute much union corruption over the years. But the agency’s efforts would be even better realized if it finalized a pair of dormant rules promised two years ago. The first would establish a new financial reporting form, T-1, requiring unions with at least some private-sector members to disclose financial data for pension funds and other trusts. The second would impose financial reporting upon intermediate-level unions. Each had been proposed during the first term of the Bush presidency but shelved under President Obama. Contrary to frequent assertions from labor leaders, these regulations would not be burdensome. But they are likely to make unions more responsive to dues-paying members.

The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) is a creation of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, enacted … Read More ➡

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DOL’s ‘Persuader Rule’: An Unpersuasive Boost for Union Organizing

Department of Labor logoAttorney-client privilege is a basic protection of liberty. Yet this Friday, people may begin to find out how little the Obama administration thinks of it. That’s when a Labor Department rule, issued in March and launched in April, fully kicks in, forcing employers to divulge the identities of outside legal help on how to avoid unionization. This “persuader rule,” as it is called, also requires such consultants to reveal their own client rosters. Union officials laud the rule as a blow for transparency and a corrective to “union-busting.” In reality, it is a power play designed to minimize the opportunities for nonunion workers to hear an employer’s side of the story during a union organizing drive. Conveniently, the regulation doesn’t apply either to unions or their consultants. As employers gear up to comply, they’ve gotten unexpected help from federal judges.

Union Corruption Update described this rule back in Read More ➡

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Sen. Thune Introduces Bill to Combat Union Corruption

Sen. John ThuneIf sunshine is the best antidote to corruption, then Senator John Thune, R-S.D. (in photo), must be opening a lot of windows. Last Wednesday, July 30, Sen. Thune unveiled the Union Transparency and Accountability Act (S. 2688), a measure that would require greater transparency in the information labor organizations report to the Department of Labor. The bill would improve detection of misuse of funds, especially by union officials and benefit fund trustees. Thune explained his discontent over President Obama’s approach: “I hope my colleagues join me in supporting my bill to put an end to the administration’s political favoritism and restore transparency to union finances. Union members deserve to know how their dues are being spent.” The legislation effectively would restore three finalized rules shelved by the DOL in 2009.

To understand how this proposal came about, it is necessary to go back to the early months of the Obama … Read More ➡

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Canadian Legislation Would Require Union Transparency

canadian-flagLabor leaders don’t like it when they have to open their books to public inspection. Those in Canada apparently aren’t much different from the ones in this country. Canadian lawmakers currently are considering private legislation, Public Financial Disclosure for Labour Organizations, to include unions as among the organizations required to furnish financial data. Sponsors say the measure, alternately known as C-377, is needed to combat corruption and foster transparency. Union leaders insist that compliance would be unjustifiably costly and time-consuming. If this sounds familiar, it should.  Close to a decade ago, the Bush administration via the regulatory process proposed similar changes. It prevailed, but only after a lengthy court challenge by the AFL-CIO. What happens in Canada looms especially significant because hundreds of thousands of its union members belong to AFL-CIO affiliates.

Union Corruption Update during the last decade often recounted at length how the U.S. Department of Labor … Read More ➡

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Boilermakers Bosses Receive Excessive Salaries, Benefits

boilermakers-at-workSix-figure salaries, questionable consulting fees and lavish getaway vacations aren’t exactly unknown in the upper reaches of organized labor. But officials of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) have been taking excess to a new level. That’s the conclusion of an exhaustive investigative report published in the Kansas City Star on Sunday, May 13. The author, Judy Thomas, spent many months combing through IBB financial reports and tax returns. Family members of Boilermakers President Newton Jones and other officials have been making out especially well. The Kansas City, Kan.-based union defends its spending and hiring practices, arguing that it operates within the bounds of the law and economic necessity. Yet a number of dues-paying members have a different view.

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers represents nearly 60,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada. It’s also amassed an impressive asset portfolio. “The Boilermaker family of … Read More ➡

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AFL-CIO Files Suit to Block New Financial Reporting Rule

Theft within a labor organization, like theft within a corporation, can go undetected for years. Union officials have become increasingly sophisticated in how they conduct financial transactions. And like corporate theft, a good portion of union-related criminal activity could have been avoided if potential conflicts of interest were disclosed beforehand. That’s why the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), led by Secretary Elaine Chao, during this decade has been trying to inject more detail into union annual financial reports. The added time and cost of compliance might seem an exercise in needless aggravation, but consider the alternative:  ever higher amounts of funds illegally diverted from union accounts into the pockets of their chieftains, families and associates. Labor officials – the honest ones included – understandably don’t like the new rules. Several years ago, the AFL-CIO, incensed over the department’s introduction of a longer Form LM-2 (the one required of larger unions), Read More ➡

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