The Big Labor Payoff Continues
By Robert Romano
On February 12th, FrontPageMagazine.com reported the Obama administration was delaying by 60 days the implementation a rule that increased disclosure requirements of unions: “The Dept. of Labor recently updated the annual disclosure form that most large unions are required to file. One revision required unions to report the value of benefits paid to officers and employees in order to provide an accurate picture of compensation received by union employees.”
Ostensibly, this 60 day stay is to allow for comments “on the merits of rescinding or retaining the rule.” Unsurprisingly, the AFL-CIO apparently lobbied the Obama transition team to rescind the rule. And in the following letter, ALG President Bill Wilson in favor of keeping the rule in place, which allows union members to view just how their dues are being spent:
February 13, 2009
Director, Office of Policy, Reports and Disclosure
Office of Labor-Management Standards
Employment Standards Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW, Suite N-5609
Washington, DC 20210
Submitted Via Regulations.gov
RE: RIN 1215-AB62, Labor Organization Annual Financial Reports
Dear Ms. Boucher:
These comments are submitted pursuant to the notice published by the Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) in the Federal Register on February 3, 2009. In that notice OLMS seeks public comment on whether to delay the effective date of the most recent regulatory action promulgated by OLMS, that being the updates to the Form LM-2 and the setting in place of standards and procedures to revoke the simplified filing privilege that smaller unions enjoy, when revocation of such privilege is warranted. The notice also seeks comment on whether to rescind the regulation.
For the reasons discussed below and others, we strongly urge the Department to not delay the effective date of this regulation and to not rescind it either.
Before the Department published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on this regulatory action it first held two public stakeholder meetings. The Department solicited suggestions from the members of the public at these meetings. Subsequent to this the Department then published the NPRM in the Federal Register and accepted public comments for a period of 60 days. The Department then spent months performing careful, detailed analysis of these comments. After this analysis was performed the Department published the Final Rule in the Federal Register on January 21, 2009. There is no reason now to perform a second round of comment on this already completed regulatory process. To do so would be a terrible waste of government resources, resources that could be put to better use educating the public about the requirements of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) and prosecuting evildoers who plunder members' dues monies.
Given the extremely short period of time between January 21, 2009 when the final rule at issue was published and the date of the notice, February 3, 2009, it is clear beyond doubt that the decision to re-think the decisions made in the final rule is both arbitrary and capricious. No serious person can reasonably believe that in the seven working days between the time when the final rule was published (January 21, 2009) and the time that the Department made public its intention to publish the notice (January 29, 2009) that facts and circumstances surrounding the final rule have changed to the point where it is now necessary to re-think that final regulation. Since there are no changed circumstances surrounding the final rule which would provide a legitimate basis to change the rule the Department is courting certain legal disaster under the Administrative Procedures Act if it continues down this path. We are left to wonder why the lawyers in the Office of the Solicitor have not pointed this out to Department officials.
The Department previously went well out of its way to obtain comments from members of the public and took an enormous amount of time evaluating those comments. Nothing has changed since these comments were received. Therefore we strongly urge the Department to immediately end this foolishness, to not delay the effective date of the regulation, to not rescind the regulation, to not issue any further NPRM on this regulation, and to get back to the business of enforcing the LMRDA.