Misc. Mondays: LM-2 Transparency Regs Delayed Again

Remember when we learned that Obama signed an Executive Order freezing all of Bush’s proposed federal rules changes, including the rule that required more information be contained in LM-2?  And remember when we discussed how Obama’s team planned on revising the LM-2, but we didn’t know to what extent?  And if you remember those, then you’ll remember what Obama’s new rule looks like.  What?  You don’t remember that? 

Well, don’t feel like you’ve been out of the loop.  Obama hasn’t released the new rules yet.  In fact, he’s blown past two of his self-imposed deadlines.  On February 20, 2009 the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) published a final rule that delayed the effective date of the regulations until April 21, 2009.  On April 21, the Department of Labor bought itself until October 19, 2009 to come up with the final rules. 

Actually, this is a good thing for management because the longer Obama’s new rules are delayed, the longer we have until the curtain drops on much of the transparency of LM’2s.  And, it’s not too late for you to weigh in with your opinion about the proposed changes.  Click hereand follow the directions on how to submit your electronic comments to the DOL.

Misc. Mondays: More Union Corruption

Like with organizing drives and union elections, I don’t normally cover union-thugs getting arrested or pleading guilty to racketeering or violent crimes.  But, sometimes a story will catch my eye that I will want to share with you, and this is one of them.

Robert Walston, the president of Teamster Local 743, who made $150,000/year from the Teamsters (thank you LM-2s), abruptly resigned from his job in the summer of 2007 incidating he wanted to spend more time with his family.  What – is he a professional athlete or coach?  Being a Local president is a routine job with routine hours.  Apparently he wanted to spend more time with his family before being taken away to jail because just days after his announcement, his cohorts were charged by federal authorities with rigging two union elections in favor to Mr. Walston’s slate.  But it doesn’t end there.

Mr. Walston was just charged with cocaine-trafficking after authorities in Texas seized $135,000 from him, which he intended to use to purchase the power. 

What’s interesting about this story is that it’s just another example of corruption inside unions.  Think what you want about bank CEOs and others who may make a lot of money running failing businesses, but they aren’t getting arrested for massive drug deals; they aren’t getting in trouble for rigging elections; they don’t have to lie about why they’re stepping down from their position; they don’t disgrace their extended family and friends; and with the exception of a few criminal masterminds, company owners don’t find themselves behind bars in federal prison.

On a related subject:  Here is an old news video of the link between the Teamsters and the Mob from 1988 when the Federal Goverment tried to take over the Teamsters.

Misc. Mondays: LM-2 Update

Beginning today, Mondays are dedicated to miscellaneous topics/updates that do not necessarily warrant a full day to themselves, but nonetheless are newsworthy.

In the final hours of the Bush Administration, he toughened standards to require most unions to publicly report nearly all compensation and expenses for officers and employees.  Officially, the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) announced that on January 21, 2009, a final regulation will be published to update the Form LM-2 consistent with President Bush’s directive.  

Since fiscal year 2001 (when Bush became President), OLMS investigations have yielded a total of 1,004 indictments with 929 convictions and court-ordered restitution of more than $93 million.  The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Labor-Management Standards, Don Todd, said: “We are confident that the changes we are making will both discourage embezzlement of union members’ money and make such embezzlement harder to hide.”  

The OLMS’ public disclosure webpage is www.unionreports.gov and contains annual financial reports and additional reports required to be filed by the LMRDA.  Other information, including synopses of OLMS enforcement actions are available at OLMS’ home page at www.olms.dol.gov.

But wait!!!!!!

President Obama’s first official act was to freeze all proposed federal rules changes left unfinished by Bush’s administration which included the change to the LM-2s.  Thus, Obama killed the increased financial reporting requirements.  Earlier, I reported that Obama plans on changing the LM-2 requirement, but no one knows to what extent (and now we can assume not to the extent that Bush did).  I followed that up with commenting on Michelle Malkin’s great expose of the UAW’s LM-2 and how the UAW wastes its members’ money.  And I will continue to follow this hot-button issue as it progresses through the Obama Administration.

On a similar note, two union employees face jail time for blowing tens of thousands of embezzled dollars from the Laborer’s Union Local 500, a construction union.  Isn’t it easier to understand why Unions don’t want LM-2s to be public or contain “too much” information?

Thursday This Week is EFCA Update Day!

Are you ready for more EFCA Updates?  We’re just half way through the first EFCA Update Week, and already I’ve received great feedback about the articles.  Hopefully these will inform you further.

 

 

This article critiques the Employee Free Choice Act by dissecting all arguments – business, union, academia – before concluding that EFCA is not beneficial for our economy or our country.

 

Rep. John Kline (R-Minn), who serves on the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee of the Education and Labor Committee offers an insight into the perils of EFCA.

 

This interesting piece highlights how Republicans view EFCA as a tool that will reunite their fractured party because it is a common ground that all members can oppose

 

This is likely not a surprise to anyone, but Chambers of Commerce oppose EFCA.  This article just happens to be from Virginia, but Chambers everywhere have banned together to fight against the negative effects that it would have on businesses throughout America.

 

About 2 months ago I heard that the SEIU is going to organize banks.  Well, the campaign has started.  The SEIU is going public telling the bank employees that some of the bailout money should go to them.  When it doesn’t, the employees will be disgruntled, and disgruntled employees are easier to organize.    This is just one of the new niche areas of organization.  Over the next few years, unions will be sprouting up in job sectors that we never thought would be targeted.

 

 

Outgoing Labor Secretary Elaine Chao write this insiders article titled “Our Workers Deserve a Secret Ballot” that was printed in the Wall Street Journal.

 

In my quasi-effort to present both sides of EFCA (because readers want to know what the other side is doing and thinking), incoming Labor Secretary Hilda Solis opposes secret ballots.

 

Union Presidents up for Obama Administration appointments.  Two former union presidents and one current union president are being considered for jobs in the Obama Administration.  Like you didn’t see that one coming?

 

Here’s another union-member who is against the Employee Free Choice Act.  He encourages unions to work on self-improvement instead of bullying their way into companies that don’t want them in the first place.

 

Rapid City, South Dakota is weighing on opposing EFCA and reminding the readers of the Daily Herald that over 30 years ago, William Raspberry of the Washington Post wrote this about compulsory unionism: “good unions don’t need it and bad unions don’t deserve it.”

 

Remember when Democrats who now support EFCA expressed the opposite view to Mexico in 2001? Remember when Rep. George Miller (D-Cal) wrote a letter to the Mexican government saying, “we feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose?”  Remember how John Boehner (R-OH) challenged Congress about the hypocrisy to of having secret ballot elections on politically tough votes within their caucuses while “leaving employees open to harassment and intimidation in the workplace on organizing votes?”  This article remembers.

 

One more day left, folks!  Come back tomorrow for our grand (well, I don’t know grand it will be) finale for the conclusion of our first EFCA Update Week!

Wednesday This Week is Another EFCA Update Day!

Now that the inauguration is over, it’s time for President Obama to get to work.  And for labor unions, that means working with Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, RESPECT Act, Patriot Employer Act, “Union of One” Act, Middle Class Opportunity Act, and he needs to appoint new NLRB Board Members to ensure that Minority Unions become a reality.  Whew!  He’ll be a busy man.  In the meantime, I will continue to cover all of those developments.  But for now, here is another day’s installment of what happened in the world of EFCA last week.

 

Outgoing Labor Secretary warns that the Labor Department could be used to harm American worker competitiveness through misguided regulations and punitive policies – and at the top of that list is EFCA.

 

This is a follow up to my previous post referencing Michelle Malkin’s expose about the luxurious lifestyle the top Union brass live thanks to the hourly dues paid by their members.

 

Former union lawyer and current NLRB Member (Judge) resoundingly endorses EFCA despite having to impartially enforce it when it passes.

 

Obama Administration encouraged the 12 major labor unions to reunite – and they’re meeting to do just that!  For those of us who followed the defection of the SEUI from the AFL-CIO, this is major news!  Looks like Obama will do what the union wants and the union will do whatever Obama wants.

 

Newly sworn in Representative Eric Massa (D-NY) is wasting no time showing his strong support for EFCA by saying that he understands the significance and importance of it – that EFCA  is the most important labor bill in 70 years.

 

Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) introduced H.R. 243, which enacts one of EFCA’s three major provisions: binding arbitration.  According to LaborPains.org, it’s not going to go anywhere, but does set the stage for EFCA.  I think this is a tester bill to see what kind of reaction it will get or if it will continue to fly under the radar like most of EFCA has done.

 

Secretary Solis does not commit to preserving funding for the Office of Labor-Management Standards, the office that requires accurate financial reporting of union finances through LM-2s. 

 

 

Union leaders from 45 different countries met with the AFL-CIO President, John Sweeney and representatives of U.S. union organization to discuss the union movement in the United States and the need to work together to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

 

This AFL-CIO post compares the union density of the top 10 economically strong countries and the United States is 6th on the list and concludes (without supporting evidence) that the top five countries on the list have stronger pro-worker laws than the US, and that 16 of the top twenty have laws similar to EFCA.  But do we really want to compare ourselves to Ireland and Demark?

 

OK, so this isn’t really an EFCA update, but it’s so news worthy for this blog that I just have to post it.  Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) introduced a bill that does away with term limits for Presidents.  Appears he was lobbying for Obama to be allowed to run for a third term before Obama was even sworn into office!

 

The SEIU is still touting that Congress is committed to passing EFCA despite the naysayers.  And that’s something the SEIU and I agree on.  Those claiming that it will not pass are engaging in wishful thinking, and every now and then I let myself believe those thoughts, too.  But, the reality is that the economy will be worse in 2009 than it was in 2008.  Unemployment will continue to climb.  House values will continue to fall.  And oh yeah, there are political thank yous that need cashed in for putting Democrats in the White House and in the majority of Congressional seats.

 

Come back tomorrow for more EFCA Updates!

LM-2 Disclosures (Part II)

Last week I wrote about the LM-2 disclosures that allow the public to see exactly where unions spend many of their dollars.  Since then, I have received questions about where those dollars and spent, and how everyone can view the LM-2s on their own.  The LM-2s can be viewed a www.unionreports.gov. 

 

As for some interesting and informative reading about where the UAW spends (and loses) its members’ money, Michelle Malkin wrote a great article on her blog about the country clubs that are owned/operated by the UAW, as well as the failed airlines, failed radio shows, and other failed investments where the UAW has squandered it’s member’s money.  Here are some highlights of her post:

 

The UAW owns and operates Black Lake Golf Course – a “championship caliber” course opened in 2000 that’s part of a larger “family education center” and retreat nestled in 1,000 acres of property in Onaway, Mich. Spearheaded by former UAW president Steve Yokich, the resort also includes “a beautiful gym with two full-sized basketball courts, an Olympic-size indoor pool, exercise and weight room, table-tennis and pool tables, a sauna, beaches, walking and bike trails, softball and soccer fields and a boat launch ramp.” Like everything else we’re subsidizing these days, the UAW’s playground is a money pit. The Detroit Free Press reported earlier this year that the golf course (valued at $6 million) and education center (valued at $27 million) have together lost $23 million over the past five years. While membership in the union has plummeted, the UAW retains assets worth $1.2 billion.

 

Here is a video clip from FoxNews about the subject.

  

Also, in following up with my allegation that the Obama administration will try to prevent the transparency of LM-2 reports, some people have questioned that comment as just a prediction or guess.  And, of course, until it happens, they’re right.  But, my conjecture isn’t unfounded.  Even the Wall Street Journal reported that the AFL-CIO’s formal “recommendations” to the Obama team called for Secretary Solis to:

 

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. 

The rest of this article can be viewed at the Wall Street Journal’s website by clicking here.

 

Without the transparent filings, we wouldn’t know that the UAW is valued at over $1.5 billion with $1.2 of that belonging to the national and the remaining $300 million spread out across the 200 local chapters.  Nor would we know:

  • The UAW has a $27 million woodland resort
  • The UAW has a $6 million golf course
  • The UAW holds $730 million worth of U.S. Treasury securities
  • The UAW holds $360 million in securitized debt
  • The UAW invested in mortgage-backed securities
  • The UAW owns its own buildings, usually valued at upwards of $1 million
  • The UAW national headquarters owns over $100 million in real estate
  • The UAW spent nearly $7 million in lobbying Congress in 2007 

Surely in a time when our country is not doing well financially and the auto industry has received enormous bailout money from the federal government, unions do not want this information to become public.  All of the UAW’s money comes directly from employees’ dues – a couple dollars at a time from each paycheck.

Revised LM-2 (Union Financial Disclosures)

As a requirement of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, unions provide financial information to the Department of Labor annually via Form LM-2 (LM-3 for smaller unions).  This information is publicly available to anyone wanting to see it.

 

LM-2 forms mainly cover the receipt and disbursement of union dues and funds that are collected by one part of the union and forwarded to another part.  The LM-2 does not cover contributions to candidates or ballot initiative campaigns by union-controlled PACs, nor does it cover union pension or health care benefit funds.

 

Over the past few years, the disclosures on LM-2s have caused legal problems for unions.  The Obama administration plans on revising the form – but to what extent is not yet determined.  However, it is anticipated that the changes will be to conceal much of the information that has caused trouble for unions in the recent past.