Readers of Union Corruption Update may have noticed something recently: a shortage of references to criminal investigations by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). That’s not a figment of the imagination. The main source of these references – the OLMS website – hasn’t been updated in at least three months; the most recent posting concerned a guilty plea entered on March 8. This may well be part of a larger strategy to restrict the flow of information to NLPC and other organizations dedicated to promoting union accountability. Organized labor, after all, is a key source of support for President Obama. And given that knowledge is power, it follows that the less the public knows about labor corruption, the more likely it will flourish. The current administration doesn’t want to be on the wrong side of union power.
Even before the current administration took office, future members had given indications of assigning a low priority to anti-corruption efforts by the Labor Department. The AFL-CIO representative on the Obama departmental transition team was a federation lawyer, Deborah Greenfield, who recommended a realignment of “the allocation of budgetary resources” from OLMS to other department agencies. She also called upon the secretary, who would be Hilda Solis, to “temporarily stay all financial reporting requirements that have not gone into effect” and “revise or rescind the onerous and unreasonable new requirements.” Only months after taking office, Solis did precisely that, undoing rules instituted under her predecessor, Elaine Chao, to make union financial reporting more detailed. Those “onerous” and “unreasonable” OLMS requirements in fact are essential to detecting sophisticated union fraud schemes; they exist most of all for the benefit of members. For the record, Greenfield became DOL deputy solicitor.
Concerned readers should write the Office of Labor-Management Standards (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask why the agency hasn’t updated its web postings of criminal actions. (I’ve written more than once, each time without a response — hopefully, there is strength in numbers.) Remember, the less the public knows about formal actions taken against union crooks, the more the crooks will be emboldened. The prospect of maximum bad publicity can and does act as a deterrent. On his first full day in the White House President Obama stated, “Let me say it as clearly as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” Resuming the listings of OLMS criminal actions would make these words more convincing.