Department of Labor proposal would improve union transparency

The Center submitted comments recently to the U.S. Department of Labor in support of a proposed rule that would increase the financial transparency and democratic procedures of labor unions.

The rule would require governing intermediate bodies composed of public sector organizations to file LM-2 and LM-3 annual union financial reports.

Currently, only unions with private sector members are required to report their financial and membership data. This leaves public sector members wondering how government unions are spending their hard-earned money—from political donations to union salaries—and makes it difficult for members to track changes in membership.

The DOL’s proposal is not new. Under the Bush administration, a similar rule was issued but was then reversed by the Obama administration. It is time to increase transparency in government and hold public sector unions to the same rules as other unions. Additional transparency would also discourage civil and criminal violations (which happen quite often among union leadership).

Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case, government workers no longer have to financially support a union to keep their job. And with membership trending downward since the Janus decision, unions should consider the impact continuing to operate in the dark could have on the financial health of their organization.