Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Department Cracking Down on Late Labor Leaders

The Department of Labor is trying to crack down on union bosses who aren’t turning in their legally required financial disclosures. This isn’t a simple case of someone missing the time to file their taxes — this is about telling millions of union members how their money is being spent. At the Center for Union Facts, where we make these financial disclosures easy to use, we’ve been highly frustrated at the trend by union bosses to flout the law. Much to our pleasant surprise, the Labor Department says it’s looking to crack down:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) has announced a plan to reduce delinquent reporting among labor unions that are required to file annual financial disclosure forms (Form LM-2, LM-3, or LM-4) with OLMS.

Every labor organization representing private sector employees is required to file a report with OLMS within 90 days of the end of its fiscal year, or further enforcement action will be pursued. Each year, however, 30 to 40 percent of unions fail to submit their reports on time, and in some instances reports remain outstanding for over one year.

OLMS’ effort to reduce this delinquency will initially focus on approximately 1,275 unions whose reports are over one year past due, including 118 of the largest unions, which are required to file the electronic Form LM-2. These unions should have filed financial disclosure forms for their fiscal years ending in 2005, with the reports due no later than March 31, 2006.

OLMS will send letters to the unions that have not filed their 2005 annual report and, after 30 days, the names of those unions that have not filed will be posted on the OLMS Web site at Further enforcement action then will be pursued, including referral to local U.S. attorneys for civil or criminal enforcement.

The effort is part of the Department’s commitment to financial transparency for union members. This initiative will better protect America’s workers by ensuring fuller compliance with the financial reporting requirements under the law.

This could be great news for union members. But already there’s gloom on the horizon: it appears some politicians are trying to cut back on the OLMS budget — which would mean less oversight for member money.

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