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April 18, 2005

Bush Seeks to Bury Unions in Red Tape

Corporations like Enron have stolen tens of billions of dollars from investors and consumers in the last few years.

Deadbeats cheat on their taxes to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

So where is the Bush administration cracking down hardest on financial auditing? Labor unions, of course.

The crimes inspiring this crackdown?

Pointing to embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the presidents of the ironworkers union and Washington's teachers union, Labor Department officials say the number of audits fell too far in the 1990's and needs to be restored to previous levels.
Yes, that's it. The absolute worst examples of corruptions and it's equivalent to the change lost in the company couches at Enron and WorldCom.

In a nation where tens of millions of union members pay billions of dollars each year in dues, its actually encouraging that these are the worst examples of corruption the Bush administration can point to. But then, unions are already scrutinized at a level that would make corporations like WalMart scream if it was suggested for big business.

Check out the LM-1 union disclosure page at the Department of Labor. For fun, type the number "1199" under the line "Designation Number" and put in "New York" under state. Submit the search and you'll get SEIU 1199, one of the largest SEIU locals in the country. If you click for the 2003 financial forms, you'll see financial disclosures on $118.7 million.

And we aren't talking about general numbers. We have hundreds of pages listing the salaries and compensation of EVERY officer and employee, down to the clerical staff.

So this is what unions already have to do. Now, the Bush administration wants them to track every major purchase, contract or other financial transaction.

Can you imagine what would be said if liberals were demanding similar disclosure from every corporation? Actually, we already know since they are already whining about the Sarbanes-Oxley bill passed in the wake of the Enron-WorldCom scandals, and the disclosure to the public required for those forms are far less extensive.

Even as the Bush administration fails to fund inspectors to enforce the minimum wage or workplace safety, it's diverting money to audit unions-- clear political revenge against its perceived enemies. It has no evidence of any pervasive problems in union finances, but it's manufacturing a supposed crisis to justify its political attack.

The goal is not to save union members money-- a laudable goal that I would support -- but to cost those members money through increasing red tape and auditing costs. Such costs will clearly outstrip any potential savings in a union movement that has a financial integrity record that we only wish the corporate world could match.

Posted by Nathan at April 18, 2005 07:28 AM