Cutting Accountability for Organized Labor

By July 19, 2007Labor Unions

Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao objects to the House having cut funds for the Office of Labor Management Standards, which is charged with enforcing union compliance with financial reporting laws. In a statement Wednesday, she wrote:

Last night’s House action cutting the budget of the Office of Labor Management Standards will impede effective enforcement of the law that protects union democracy and financial integrity for rank and file members.

We wrote about the office here; the ethics-imperative House holds organized labor to looser standards of transparency and accountability than it does business, lobbyists and campaign contributors. Seems inconsistent.

From The Hill:

DoL officials argue there are convincing reasons to increase the OLMS budget. For example, DoL reports that 15,800 unions have filed disclosure reports on their finances, but only 4.6 percent have been audited because of OLMS’s limited resources. Increased funding could allow more audits, which could lead to more findings of malfeasance.

Since 2001, OLMS investigations have increased by 20 percent, according to DoL, and convictions are up 26 percent. Courts have ordered the restitution of more than $70 million in union member dues that DoL says were stolen by union officials. OLMS also obtained 760 convictions of union officers and employees, according to information from DoL.

The White House is threatening a veto for excessive spending in the appropriations bill. The Statement of Administration Policy on the measure is available here.

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