Transparency Informs Labor Criticism — Keep it That Way

By December 31, 2008Economy, Labor Unions

Columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin is the harshest, most unremitting journalistic critic of the federal involvement/aid to various sectors of the economy (like so many, indiscriminately calling them all “bailouts”), and the UAW is one of her many targets. For all the many good points she makes about UAW golf courses, spending and corruption today in her syndicated column, “The UAW’s money-squandering corruptocracy,” we’d also like to hightlight this one:

Curious about how the UAW will be spending my money and yours, I sifted through the union’s most recent annual report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (which you can find at unionreports.gov). Who knew hitting the links was so central to the business of making cars?

Malkin was able to write an informative and damning column because of reports made available through the Department of Labor. She and other journalists, the public, and union members have all benefited from Labor’s concerted efforts to improve union transparency, most carried out through the Office of Labor Management Standards and including such sites as unionreports.gov.  With all major players in the U.S. economy under increased scrutiny and unions hoping to create a more static, less responsive labor market through the Employee Free Choice Act, maintaining oversight and transparency are critical.

Yet there are many indications that the Department of Labor in the next Administration will head in the other direction, the wrong direction. As the Wall Street Journal reported in a recent editorial, “Quantum of Solis“:

From day one of the Obama era, union leaders want the lights dimmed on how they spend their mandatory member dues. The AFL-CIO’s representative on the Obama transition team for Labor is Deborah Greenfield, and we’re told her first inspection stop was the Office of Labor-Management Standards, or OLMS, which monitors union compliance with federal law.

Ms. Greenfield declined to comment, citing Obama transition rules, but her mission is clear enough. The AFL-CIO’s formal “recommendations” to the Obama team call for the realignment of “the allocation of budgetary resources” from OLMS to other Labor agencies. The Secretary should “temporarily stay all financial reporting regulations that have not gone into effect,” and “revise or rescind the onerous and unreasonable new requirements,” such as the LM-2 and T-1 reporting forms. The explicit goal is to “restore the Department of Labor to its mission and role of advocating for, protecting and advancing the interests of workers.” In other words, while transparency is fine for business, unions are demanding a pass for themselves.

Along similar lines, Mark Tapscott of The Examiner asks if the (very vocal) liberal advocates of transparency and open government will speak up on behalf of the OLMS and Labor’s transparency initiatives.

Organized labor’s leaders sure hold idiosyncratic views about secrecy, don’t they? With the Employee Free Choice Act, they would destroy secret-ballot elections so organizers can force unwilling workers into unions. But in attacking Department of Labor union transparency rules, labor bosses would restore and extend secrecy into union operations so they can spend members’ dues however they want.

Both issues — the Employee Free Choice Act and union transparency — are early tests of an Obama Administration and its views on accountability, transparency and the importance of a dynamic market economy. We certainly hope the decisionmaking is carried out in a transparent way.

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  • […] Shopfloor » Blog Archive » Transparency Informs Labor Criticism — Keep it That WayMalkin was able to write an informative and damning column because of reports made available through the Department of Labor. She and other journalists, the public, and union members have all benefited from Labor’s concerted efforts to improve union transparency, most carried out through the Office of Labor Management Standards and including such sites as unionreports.gov. With all major players in the U.S. economy under increased scrutiny and unions hoping to create a more static, less responsive labor market through the Employee Free Choice Act, maintaining oversight and transparency are critical.(labor unions lm2 uaw ) […]

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