Essay Preview: Conflict Management
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(05-08) 17:55 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) —
Unions should be required to make public more details of their internal finances, the Labor Department said Thursday as it proposed new changes to union disclosure forms.
Unions are required every year to file financial disclosure forms with the Labor Department. But federal officials are proposing a more detailed form, and penalizing small unions who get into trouble with the law by prohibiting them from filing a simple form.
The proposed changes will be printed on Monday in the Federal Register.
“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,” said Don Todd, deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Patrick Szymanski, lawyer for the Change to Win labor organization, said there was no indication that the current disclosure forms were inadequate.
“Its another attempt by the Department of Management to find a way to tie unions up in red tape so they cant continue to organize workers,” he said.
“The administration is showing once again that it would rather spend its time on a witch hunt aimed at unions than on advancing the interests of workers,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a statement.
Some of the changes in the proposed rule include:
_ Asking union officials and employees making more than $10,000 to itemize their benefits like life insurance, pensions and deferred compensation.
The current form allows benefits to be combined and disclosed as one number, leaving the amount of individual benefits undisclosed.
_ Requiring disclosure of expenses when the money is not reimbursed directly to the union employee or official. Labor officials say indirect reimbursement, when payment for expenses goes to the vendor instead of to the employee or official, currently does not have to be disclosed on the forms.
_ Requiring unions to disclose who bought or sold any union asset worth more than $5,000. The current form only requires disclosure of the sale.
_ Requiring itemization