April 5th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government today launched two new websites, SEIUMonitor.com and UFCWMonitor.com to, according to ALG President Bill Wilson, “help union workers keep track of how their union dues are being wasted by labor bosses.”
“Since Barack Obama took office, he has, almost from day one, rolled back earlier efforts that increased transparency in labor unions. Those regulations were crafted in accordance with the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act,” said Wilson.
Wilson said that Obama’s repeal of those regulations left a “big gap in union disclosure,” adding, “SEIUMonitor.com and UFCWMonitor.com are designed to enable union workers to once again keep track of the strong arm tactics used against their own locals and political activities that their dues often pay for.”
Firm disclosure rules for unions were put into place by the Bush Administration. Unions had to disclose on their LM-2 forms annual reports reflecting finances and any recipients of $5,000 or more in union funds. The first filings of these forms would have been due in late 2009, but the Obama Administration delayed the filings and withdrew the most recent changes to the requirements in October 2009.
SEIUMonitor.com and UFCWMonitor.com will provide information to the public on union membership dues and what they are used for. Union workers can access information about their pensions, union management and any potential scandals that may affect their relationship with their union.
“One critical component of the websites is the ability of union workers to provide tips on union corruption, which our research department will look into,” said Don Todd, Director of ALG Research, former head of the Labor Department agency responsible for union oversight.
“The Department of Labor is cutting down on information available to union members,” Todd said, and encouraged union workers to use the websites “and provide us with any tips of misappropriation of funds.”
The websites are regularly updated with news and information helpful to a union member. Focusing on two of the largest and fastest growing union organizations, Wilson said the site would “shed light on shady union tactics by labor bosses to influence their members, media, and politicians into supporting their agenda.”
Wilson said that “rolling back the union transparency rules was a top priority of Big Labor in 2008, and it is therefore unsurprising that Barack Obama became their top advocate once elected.”
Wilson noted that the SEIU was particularly influential. SEIU President Andy Stern has been the most frequent visitor of the White House from January through July 2009, visiting 22 times according to the White House visitor log published by The Wall Street Journal.
Todd suggest that Stern’s reoccurring visits may have strengthened the Administration’s decision to lessen the requirements of union leaders.
“The Administration has been rolling reforms back and not showing where the money is going since Obama took office,” Todd says.
Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards has indicted more than a thousand union officials, winning 929 convictions for a wide range of criminal activities from 2001 to 2009, including fraud, misrepresentation and embezzlement.The office also won $93 million dollars in restitution of union funds.
The goal of the ALG effort is that union employees, the media and policymakers will utilize these websites for information they are not getting from the unions themselves.
Wilson concluded, “These websites should close the gap of rescinded union transparency left by the Obama Administration.”