DOL Again Focuses on Unions' Finances

The U.S. Department of Labor says it will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking today to enhance labor unions' financial transparency. The proposed rule, issued under the authority of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), protects the rights of labor union members to have meaningful information about union finances and expenditures, the agency said; DOL has been trumpeting prosecutions of union officials and issuing rules affecting their financial affairs throughout the Bush presidency.

This new rule would revise certain aspects of Form LM-2, which is filed by about 4,600 unions with annual receipts of at least $250,000, and it implements a longstanding provision of LMRDA to require unions that ordinarily file a simplified report to instead file the more detailed LM-2 if they violate their legal obligations. The public comment period will begin with publication of the proposed rule today and will last for 45 days.

Changes being proposed include disclosing the amount spent on benefits for individual union officers and certain union employees, reporting indirect disbursements to officers and employees, itemizing certain receipts of $5,000 or more, and disclosing the identity of the purchaser or seller in transactions involving union assets. Besides improving disclosure in these areas, DOL said the proposed rule also would increase accountability by establishing a fair procedure, including due process rights for the union, for revoking a privilege of filing a simplified annual LM-3 report instead of the more detailed LM-2.

"The proposed rule builds on the administration's continuing commitment to transparency and accountability for corporations, pension funds, and labor unions," said Don Todd, deputy assistant secretary for the department's Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). "This proposed rule provides union members with more complete information about union finances and will better protect their legal rights to transparency and accountability under the law."

OLMS's public disclosure Web site, available at www.unionreports.gov, contains union annual financial reports and additional reports required to be filed under LMRDA, as well as copies of collective bargaining agreements. Other information, including synopses of OLMS enforcement actions, is available at www.olms.dol.gov.

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