Obama Planning to Gut Union Disclosure System?

President-elect Obama’s choice of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-California), a champion of labor, as his labor secretary had led to outbreaks of ideological ecstasy among the Big Labor establishment.

But once ensconced in the position, the Wall Street Journal fears that Solis will “turn a blind eye to union corruption by weakening federal oversight.” The WSJ editorializes:

There is joy in Unionville this Christmas. Barack Obama’s pick for Secretary of Labor — Hilda Solis — brings impeccable big labor credentials. The California Congresswoman first rode to power with labor backing against a fellow Democrat, has voted with the AFL-CIO 97% of the time, and got three-quarters of her campaign contributions from unions.

Ms. Solis says her goal is to expand the reach and power of unions in America, and she supports such union priorities as the Employee Free Choice Act, which would do the opposite of its name and end secret balloting to unionize a workplace. Look for a showdown on that legislation in 2009. Meanwhile, the other drama to watch is whether Ms. Solis will turn a blind eye to union corruption by weakening federal oversight.

From day one of the Obama era, union leaders want the lights dimmed on how they spend their mandatory member dues. The AFL-CIO’s representative on the Obama transition team for Labor is Deborah Greenfield, and we’re told her first inspection stop was the Office of Labor-Management Standards, or OLMS, which monitors union compliance with federal law.

Ms. Greenfield declined to comment, citing Obama transition rules, but her mission is clear enough. The AFL-CIO’s formal “recommendations” to the Obama team call for the realignment of “the allocation of budgetary resources” from OLMS to other Labor agencies. The Secretary should “temporarily stay all financial reporting regulations that have not gone into effect,” and “revise or rescind the onerous and unreasonable new requirements,” such as the LM-2 and T-1 reporting forms. The explicit goal is to “restore the Department of Labor to its mission and role of advocating for, protecting and advancing the interests of workers.” In other words, while transparency is fine for business, unions are demanding a pass for themselves.

Current Secretary Elaine Chao boosted Labor’s enforcement office and tightened disclosure rules after years of neglect by the Clinton Administration. Staffing rose to 331 from 274 in 2000 — still modest by federal standards — and picked up the pace of surprise audits and investigations of abuse. Big labor wants Ms. Solis to reverse all that, though with its growing political clout it deserves more scrutiny than ever. […]

Share this post!