Voting Against Accountability for Organized Labor

By July 19, 2007Labor Unions

Following up on the earlier post about the effort to cut funding for the Office of Labor Management Standards, the vote was indeed taken Tuesday, and accountability and transparency lost. The House voted 186-237 against an amendment sponsored by Rep. John Kline (R-MN) to restore funds for the OLMS. (The rollcall vote is here.) Kline gave a floor speech on behalf of his amendment. Excerpt:

I find it ironic, Mr. Speaker, that the House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee provided $3.1 million over the Administration’s budget request for the SEC while OLMS was being cut below FY 07 levels. Clearly, we put a high priority on corporate accountability.

Mr. Speaker, we need to put the same high priority on union accountability. Although this is a modest amendment, it will enable this enforcement agency within the Department of Labor to maintain its audit program and other activities under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. I cannot believe that this House would say to union members throughout America that we do not support your right to know and your right to union integrity.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute also had an op-ed in the New York Sun prior to the vote.

OLMS forms show that the executive vice president of the Journeymen and Allied Trades, headquartered in Briarwood, N.Y., Peter DeVito, was paid more than $450,000 in 2005, the same as the secretary/treasurer of the organization, Edward Byrne. The president of the International Longshoremen’s Association headquartered in New York, John Bowers, was paid more than $413,000 in 2005.

Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with spending union dues on golf or on high salaries for union bosses. Perhaps the rank-and-file don’t disapprove — if they know. But do they know? They’re entitled to the best information available, which requires audits from OLMS. In 2006 OLMS had the staff to audit only 4.6% of unions required to file the forms. That’s why it needs more funding, not less.

Detailed union financial disclosure reports are bad news for labor union bosses. This year they want to have the last laugh by ensuring that Congress shrinks part of the OLMS budget. Will they get away with it?

Yes…yes, they will.

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