Department of Labor Sells Out Union Members for Big Labor 1%

The Department of Labor's efforts to destroy financial disclosure rules designed protect union members and inform them about the spending habits of the union bosses is selling out the 99% to help the 1%, in the parlance of the Occupy Wall Street movement: The Department of Labor (DOL) doesn’t need to loosen financial disclosure for union bosses to take advantage of union members’ dues. Yet, this is exactly what the Obama administration has done. On October 26, DOL published a regulation that would weaken union members’ protections against fraud and corruption by union leadership. Under the new regulation, DOL’s union financial reporting document, the Form LM-30, will no longer require financial disclosure reporting by union stewards, leave for workers performing union activities while being paid by their employer, financial dealings with credit institutions (such as loans), and union officials’ payments from union trusts. It’s not as if these requirements served no purpose. Numerous major cases of union corruption last month bring the timing of the rulemaking into question. Here’s a quick rundown for October: In Chicago, former Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon, along with two union lobbyists, were found to be double-dipping pensions. They secured six-figure pensions from the city of Chicago, based on calculations from their inflated wages for carrying out union activities, rather than from their wage from government service. Union bosses were found greasing the wheels on the Long Island Railroad Workers’ billion- dollar disability pension scam. Ten NYPD officers, who are union officials in the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, were charged for their role in a widespread ticket-fixing scam. The United Food and Commercial Workers’ New York local president, former president, and treasurer were arrested for racketeering, extortion, money laundering, and witness tampering. The LM-30 was designed to make union finances transparent and hold union bosses accountable to their membership. As stated in Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, “[T]he Department [of Labor] established the Form LM-30 … to make public any actual or likely conflict between the personal interests of union officers and employees and their obligations to the union and its members.” With this fresh list of corrupt union activities, does loosening union financial disclosure and relaxing compliance procedures protect the hardworking, middle-class union member? No. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

ObamaCare's Big Labor Bailout Provisions

The Investor's Business Daily reports on a new government report detailing a $5 billion slush fund that was included in ObamaCare, $2.7 billion of which has been handed out to the union bosses: How do you funnel billions of dollars to your union pals at a time when the government is running record deficits? Easy, you just tuck the money into ObamaCare. According to a new Government Accountability Office report, the federal government has so far handed out $2.7 billion out of a $5 billion program squirreled away in ObamaCare. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program is advertized as a way to "stabilize the availability of employer-sponsored coverage for early retirees," according to a Health and Human Services memo. The argument goes that companies are increasingly dropping retiree health benefits, leaving those who retire before becoming eligible for Medicare in a jam — either they face exorbitant rates for insurance or expose themselves to potentially catastrophic health costs. The little-noticed ObamaCare program was supposed to encourage companies to continue offering this benefit until 2014 — when ObamaCare fully kicks in and will solve everything — by reimbursing companies for a chunk of their retiree health costs. But lift the hood a little and this program looks more like a slush fund for Friends of Democrats. Almost as soon as the program was announced, thousands of well-connected unions and government agencies rushed in to apply for the free money. As a result, the agency running the program had to stop accepting applications in May or risk running out of funds. And just look at who made the cut. According to figures obtained by IBD, 10 of the top 12 recipients are either unions or public employee groups. In fact, the biggest single recipient was the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, which alone grabbed more than 8% of all the funds handed out so far. Other union beneficiaries include the United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Mine Workers and the Teamsters. The problem is that these groups are the least likely to drop their retiree health benefits, calling the lie to the Obama administration's whole "stabilizing" excuse.In fact, over the past 10 years, the share of state and local governments offering retiree benefits increased — climbing to 83% from 80% in 2001, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation health benefits survey.

ObamaCare's Big Labor Bailout Provisions

The Investor's Business Daily reports on a new government report detailing a $5 billion slush fund that was included in ObamaCare, $2.7 billion of which has been handed out to the union bosses: How do you funnel billions of dollars to your union pals at a time when the government is running record deficits? Easy, you just tuck the money into ObamaCare. According to a new Government Accountability Office report, the federal government has so far handed out $2.7 billion out of a $5 billion program squirreled away in ObamaCare. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program is advertized as a way to "stabilize the availability of employer-sponsored coverage for early retirees," according to a Health and Human Services memo. The argument goes that companies are increasingly dropping retiree health benefits, leaving those who retire before becoming eligible for Medicare in a jam — either they face exorbitant rates for insurance or expose themselves to potentially catastrophic health costs. The little-noticed ObamaCare program was supposed to encourage companies to continue offering this benefit until 2014 — when ObamaCare fully kicks in and will solve everything — by reimbursing companies for a chunk of their retiree health costs. But lift the hood a little and this program looks more like a slush fund for Friends of Democrats. Almost as soon as the program was announced, thousands of well-connected unions and government agencies rushed in to apply for the free money. As a result, the agency running the program had to stop accepting applications in May or risk running out of funds. And just look at who made the cut. According to figures obtained by IBD, 10 of the top 12 recipients are either unions or public employee groups. In fact, the biggest single recipient was the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, which alone grabbed more than 8% of all the funds handed out so far. Other union beneficiaries include the United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Mine Workers and the Teamsters. The problem is that these groups are the least likely to drop their retiree health benefits, calling the lie to the Obama administration's whole "stabilizing" excuse.In fact, over the past 10 years, the share of state and local governments offering retiree benefits increased — climbing to 83% from 80% in 2001, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation health benefits survey.

Rouge NRLB Blocking Probe

Rouge NRLB Blocking Probe

House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) accused the National Labor Relations Board of being a “rogue agency” in a letter to its general counsel Monday. The chairman claimed the NLRB knowingly withheld damaging documents relating to his committee’s probe of the agency’s controversial Boeing complaint, the Investors Business Daily Reports: Issa was referring to a cache of emails obtained earlier this month by the watchdog group Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act. He expressed anger that the emails were not turned over to his committee first and said the messages demonstrated the agency’s lack of impartiality. He further alleged that some of them contradicted claims NLRB staffers made as part of his committee’s probe. NLRB spokeswoman Nancy Cleland said the agency had not withheld the emails. She said that the committee’s requests and the FOIA requests that produced the emails were handled separately by different people and that caused confusion. “Because the documents were being produced on separate tracks, the Committee had not yet received some materials at the time they were provided to Judicial Watch. It is the Agency’s intent to provide those materials as part of its next, and fourth, delivery of documents later this week,” Cleland said in a statement to IBD, adding that in the future the committee requests will be given priority over FOIA requests. The 505 pages of emails do not contain especially startling revelations. For the most part, the NLRB staffers appear to be very circumspect in their messages to each other. There are several redacted sections, most citing FOIA exceptions for privacy and attorney work product. Nevertheless in several cases NLRB staffers do offer some personal commentary on the Boeing case and the effect is not unlike listening in at the watercooler. Those messages show the staff to be enthused at the prospect of bringing the aerospace giant to heel and disdainful of their critics on the case. At the time of the Boeing case, its chairwoman was Wilma Liebman, a former Teamsters lawyer. Obama had also appointed former Service Employees International Union lawyer Craig Becker to the five-member board. Only one board member was a Republican.“The unprecedented NLRB decision to attack Boeing seemed abusive on its face and cried out for further investigation. And we suspected it was done at the behest of union interests and not the public interest. The pro-union email traffic we uncovered confirm this,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, in an email to IBD. NLRB attorney, John Mantz, forwarded Willen a link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. The GOP governor was criticizing Obama and his “union-beholden appointees at the National Labor Relations Board” for launching “a direct assault on the 22 right-to-work states across America.”“Deb, have you seen this?” Mantz wrote. Willen didn’t apparently respond, but did forward the link to another attorney, Jayme Sophir, who gave a one-word response: “Ugh.”