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February 07, 2005

Love that DOL

Here's a fun little find that says a lot about Chao's Department of Labor and its approach to labor unions. The DOL maintains a "Public Disclosure Room" on the Internet that allows the public to review information contained in unions' annual financial reports filed with the Department. These reports contain, among other things, salary and expense information for every officer and employee of every union in the US.

Until recently, the results of a search for reported data concerning officers or employees would include information on both salary and "total payments" -- that is, all remittances to the officer/employee. An officer/employee's "total payments" generally are the officer/employee's salary plus reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses while on official union business. So when a union's financial report shows that employee receives $50,000 in salary, but has $65,000 in total payments, it's clear that the employee is only receiving $50,000 in compensation.

The DOL recently redesigned its web query engine, though, and now the results of an officer/employee search only show total payments made to officers and employees. This creates a grossly misleading situation whereby members of the public attempting to find information on union employee salaries will see only one figure -- total payments. The result is to sow in the public mind a mistakenly inflated notion of the size of union salaries. Which, I suppose, was the idea.

Posted by Trapper John at February 7, 2005 12:29 PM