House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.


Left Turns

October 14, 2009

CONTACT: Alexa Marrero
(202) 225-4527

Who Said Anything About Transparency?

For an Administration that talks a good game about transparency, recent actions by the U.S. Department of Labor certainly don’t inspire much hope about citizens’ – especially workers’ – right to information. 

Late last week, the Department issued a modest, six sentence notification to Congress announcing plans to rescind a series of changes made to enhance union disclosure. Issued on a Friday before a federal holiday three-day weekend – a notorious news burial ground – the decision to roll back union disclosure requirements significantly undercuts rank-and-file union workers’ ability to hold their leadership accountable. 

So why exactly was it necessary for the Administration to eliminate these new transparency tools designed to assist and empower workers? 

The disclosure requirements yanked back by the Obama Administration would have enhanced reporting on the LM-2 form, which is the annual financial disclosure filed by unions with the Department of Labor. Because of the recent decision to scale back union disclosure, the Department will no longer require unions to: 

  • Disclose the total value of benefits received by union officers and employees;

  • Disclose the names of parties buying and selling union assets; or

  • Itemize union receipts. 

Of course, weakening union oversight requirements seems only natural after the Administration and its cohorts in the Democratic Congress slashed funding for the office charged with enforcing union oversight laws. In fact, the FY 2010 budget cuts $4.4 million from the Office of Labor Management Standards, more than a 10 percent reduction in its overall budget. 

This is not the first time this Administration has weakened union accountability measures. Will it be the last?