Misrepresenting the Cause of Labor Transparency

By December 13, 2007Labor Unions

The author of the Center for American Progress’ political brief against the Office of Labor-Management Standards, Scott Lilly, responded to our critique of the document in the comments section of this post. About what you’d expect. (Oh, it’s off the front page of the Center’s website already. Guess after the “study” produced the flattering Washington Post piece, it had accomplished its goal.)

J. Justin Wilson at LaborPains.org — from the Center for Union Facts — took the trouble of analyzing Lilly’s comments in this post, identifying his fundamental inconsistency: Disclosure serves the public interest generally, but not in the case of union disclosures.

But after eleven paragraphs of complaining about all the paperwork the poor unions have to file, among other things, Lilly never gets around to responding to Wood’s central criticism: that union corruption is on the decline because the DOL’s disclosure requirements deter union officials from embezzling. After all, that’s why disclosure requirements exist in the first place.

Here’s my favorite part of Lilly’s post:

The measures that have been adopted at the Labor Department with respect to disclosure and reporting by labor unions and their officials, employees and members do virtually nothing to increase transparency into union finances or reduce the likelihood that corrupt individuals will attempt to raid union coffers. They are crudely and ineptly drawn. They greatly add to the paperwork burden but provide little new or useful information to union members or outside watchdogs.

Maybe Mr. Lilly should tell that to the thousands of union members that rely on our website every day to do research on their own union. And as an outside watchdog, I can personally attest that the DOL’s reports have provided me with a host of new and useful information.

Justin also notes that his group has asked the Center for American Progress to retract its potentially libelous charges against the Center for Union Facts.

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