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.