Big Labor Largess Pay Off

The Office of Labor and Management Standards (OLMS) is the part of the Department of Labor that protects workers by tracking how union officials spend the dues and fees extracted from members and non-members alike under the auspices for government granted monopoly bargaining privileges. Understandably, Big Labor officials look at these funds as their own personal piggybanks, and don’t want the hassle that comes with having to document what they do with them. And now, it seems, the Union Boss strategy of funneling much of these often forced-dues funds into the political process is beginning to bear real fruit.

As Brian O’Keefe, in a special to The Daily Standard, put it:

EVEN THOUGH HO– USE Democrats campaigned on promises to improve ethics, promote greater transparency and disclosure, and fight corruption, it now appears they will not require some of their top campaign contributors to live by those same vows.

In a galling political move, the House voted down an amendment last week that would have restored funding for the Office of Labor and Management Standards (OLMS), an office within the Department of Labor. That means OLMS’s budget will be slashed by about 20 percent next year. And OLMS isn’t just any ordinary office. Under the Bush administration, OLMS has led the charge on requiring greater union financial disclosure and transparency and fighting union corruption. . . .

The result is that today any rank and file union member can log on to the Department of Labor’s website and look up detailed financial information about how their dues are being spent. Never have the “average Joes” in labor unions had so much useful and readily accessible information about their unions.

OLMS has also been instrumental in fighting corrupt union leaders. Its work has helped prosecutors win convictions in corruption cases and returned to union coffers money that unsavory labor leaders tried to pilfer.

While all of this might sound noble, one constituency has not been enamored with OLMS: union bosses. Suffice it to say that all of this talk about financial disclosure, transparency, and corruption has made many labor leaders quite uncomfortable. Much of the financial reporting has also brought to light embarrassing information about the ways that union leadership spends members’ dues. Many union leaders would prefer to have their members in the dark about how many golf outings, “retreats” at lavish resorts, and fancy dinners they have enjoyed on their dime.

He goes on to point out:

What makes these budget cuts so obviously related to OLMS’s oversight of unions is that the Democrats have actually added $935 million dollars to the original administration budget request. It seems that the Democrats have no problem with spending taxpayer dollars on DOL. They just don’t want that money to fund oversight of their campaign contributors.

It’s also noteworthy that labor unions are trying so hard to keep their own books secret when they have aggressively lobbied to require greater financial transparency from publicly traded corporations. OLMS’s reporting requirements pale in comparison to Sarbanes-Oxley. It’s clear that labor wants to promote one stringent standard for companies but live by another.

The real losers in this fight however are the rank and file union members. They work hard and pay their dues. They should have the right to know what their leaders are doing and how they are spending their financial resources.

To read the entire article, click here.