Tag: Office of Labor Management Standards

Labor Department Regulatory Agenda is Not a Growth Agenda

President Barack Obama met with business leaders last week to discuss “a shared agenda focused on moving our economy forward that not only continues to grow the economy, but also ensures America is competing and leading in the world.” He then later met with labor union leaders in which the President “reinforced the essential role the union movement plays in growing the economy, creating good jobs on Main Street, and keeping America competitive.”

It appears that the President is rightfully focused on job creation and enhancing our nation’s economic competitiveness.

We looked forward to going through the Department of Labor’s Fall 2010 regulatory agenda (on the last day of the season!) today to learn how the Labor Department was going to achieve the goal of achieving “Good Jobs for Everyone.” Now that’s it’s here, most of what we see is focused on increasing regulations on employers and achieving goals that were unable to be done legislatively.

Specifically the agenda includes:

  • A new regulatory proposal that would require companies to disclose to both independent contractors and employees alike a description of their status as either an employee or independent contractor. While few details are offered on this expected regulatory endeavor it appears to place new requirements on employers to disseminate information to employees. This regulation appears to be very similar to legislation, the Employee Misclassification Prevention Act, offered by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).
  • Information on proposals expected from the Office of Labor Management Standards that would require employers to disclose the details of when they engage in “persuader activities” and plans to “reconsider” (i.e. limit) the types of efforts engaged by employers to comply with labor laws that are not currently required to be disclosed. Note: the administration previously removed a set of disclosure requirements for union organizations citing the burden they posed for labor leaders to comply.
  • An update on OSHA’s efforts to mandate an expansive safety and health program standard through what has been called the “Injury and Illness Prevention Program”
  • An indication that OSHA intends to finalizing their proposed rulemaking to allow citations to be issued for certain small businesses that wish to work proactively with the agency to ensure that they are compliant with existing OSHA standards and regulations – a move that would deter participation in a very effective program.

As we’ve stated here numerous times: more regulations from the Executive Branch produce a lot of uncertainty for employers, to whom unnecessary costs represent an obstacle to economic growth.

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Card Check: Unions Want to Kill Disclosures to Hide Market Failure

From today’s Wall Street Journal, “Unions in Debt,” with the secondary headline, “Big labor has big financial problems it wants to keep quiet.”

‘We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama,” declared Andy Stern last month, and the president of the Service Employees International Union wasn’t exaggerating. The SEIU and AFL-CIO have been spending so much on politics that they’re going deeply into debt.

That news comes courtesy of federal disclosure forms that unions file each year with the Department of Labor. The Bush Administration toughened the enforcement of those disclosure rules, but under pressure from unions the Obama Labor shop is slashing funding for such enforcement. Without such disclosure, workers wouldn’t be able to see how their union chiefs are managing their mandatory dues money.

And an insight:

[Unions] can’t resist the lure of the Beltway precisely because they fare so poorly in the private marketplace. The union red ink helps explain why Mr. Stern and AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney are lobbying so hard for Congress to rig the rules to make it easier for unions to gather more dues-paying members.

Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao outlined the attacks against disclosure and the Department’s Office of Labor Management Standards in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month, “Obama Tries to Stop Union Disclosure: No more sunshine on how worker dues are spent.”

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Union Occlusion: A View Toward Recission

Lead story in today’s Washington Times, “Obama team reverses union transparency“:

The Obama administration, which has boasted about its efforts to make government more transparent, is rolling back rules requiring labor unions and their leaders to report information about their finances and compensation.

The Labor Department noted in a recent disclosure that “it would not be a good use of resources” to bring enforcement actions against union officials who do not comply with conflict of interest reporting rules passed in 2007. Instead, union officials will now be allowed to file older, less detailed conflict reports.

The regulation, known as the LM-30 rule, was at the heart of a lawsuit that the AFL-CIO filed against the department last year.

Indeed, the list of policy recommendations the AFL-CIO made to the Obama transition team included its goal of rolling back LM-30 disclosures as one of its highest priorities for the new Administration. See “AFL-CIO 2008 Transition Project Recommendations for the Obama Administration“:

Highest
The Department should immediately stay all financial reporting regulations that have not
yet gone into effect or that have gone into effect but for which the first reporting deadline
has not yet occurred. This includes:
T-1;
revised LM-30 (effective 2008; first report due March 2009);
revised LM-2 (anticipated effective date December 2008; first report due until
March 2010);
LM-3 revocation procedures (anticipated effective date December 2008; first
report due until March 2010).
The stay should occur through an interim rule. Shortly thereafter, the Department should
issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on whether to rescind all of
these regulations, with a view toward recission.

The Times notes that one of the AFL-CIO attorneys in the LM-30 litigation, Deborah Greenfield, is now a high-ranking deputy at Labor and was an Obama transition team member. As we noted in December in this post, the Wall Street Journal reported that Greenfield’s first stop at DOL for the transition team was to the Office of Labor Management Standards.

Labor has already put the kibosh on an expanded LM-2 report, as well, delaying until October a proposal to beef up the disclosure requirements in annual reports unions must file. (To which Associated Builders and Contractors objected strenuously.)

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Transparency Informs Labor Criticism — Keep it That Way

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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Card Check: Just One of Big Labor’s Big Priorities

Human Events gives us a list, “Top 10 Things On Big Labor’s Agenda

1. Employee Free Choice Act
In addition to the notorious “card-check” provision that strips union members of their right to a secret ballot, this bill also provides for increased penalties for employers who commit allegedly unfair labor practices. These increased penalties include treble damages and civil penalties of up to $20,000.

2. Repeal of Section 14(b) of Taft-Hartley
Repeal of this section 14 of the Taft-Hartley Act would take from states the right to enact right-to-work laws.

3. Family Medical Leave Act expansion
Bills sponsored by Sen. Chris Dodd (D.-Conn.) in the last Congress proposed creation of an insurance system to provide for paid family medical leave and an expansion of the employers covered by the act.

4. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
This proposal is a response to the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. decision, in which the Supreme Court said that the 180-day statute of limitations for equal pay lawsuits begins on the date the pay was agreed to. The Lilly Ledbetter Act would re-start the statute of limitations each time that a paycheck was received.

5. Minimum Wage Hike
Barack Obama’s website promises to “raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011.”

6. Patriot Employer Act
This bill imposes tax increases on companies that have major operations outside the U.S. and tax hikes on those don’t agree to “labor neutrality,” card check, etc.

7. Government unions
Barack Obama promised during the campaign that he would fight for collective bargaining rights for Transportation Security Administration workers. Big Labor will also seek the forced unionization of police, firefighters, and EMTs by federal fiat — overturning the laws of more than two dozen states.

8. Union Financial Disclosure
Drastically revise the Office of Labor-Management Standards’ Form LM-2 that has embarrassed and caused legal problems for union bosses by forcing them to reveal their salaries and spending.

9. National Labor Relations Board
Ram through a pro-union-appointee to the NLRB and add more labor advocates to the board. Right now, of the five seats, three are vacant.

10. Overturn Bush orders
Immediate revocation of Bush executive order on Beck rights notices and Bush executive order prohibitions on use of discriminatory union-only Project Labor Agreements in federal contracting.

And don’t forget: Expand Davis-Bacon wage mandates.

(Hat tip: Jim Gray)

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