U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today cosponsored an amendment to restore funding for the U.S. Labor Department office charged with cracking down on union corruption.
The amendment, offered by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008 bill, would restore funding to the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) responsible for protecting the rights of dues-paying union members by holding unions accountable for financial transactions.
“Honest, hard-working union members don’t want to see their union dues wasted,” Alexander said. “Union members should not be second class citizens. Union bosses – like corporate bosses – must obey the law. We need to fund government offices that crackdown on corruption wherever it occurs, from the boardroom to the union hall.”
The current Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill cuts funding to OLMS by $2 million compared to FY 2007, and includes $11 million less than the President requested in his budget. The Sessions amendment would provide a total of $50.7 million for the office, including $3 million for audit and enforcement measures. Funding for OLMS in the Sessions amendment will be offset by cutting administrative expenses for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.
The amendment failed on a 46 to 47 Senate vote.
Facts about OLMS:
OLMS is responsible for protecting the rights of dues-paying union members by holding unions accountable for their financial transactions and by cracking down on corrupt union officials.
Unions are not required by law to have independent audits performed, so OLMS is the only protection offered to union members.
Last year, 15,800 unions filed financial reports with OLMS.
OLMS has been extremely successful in prosecuting financial fraud, as revealed by its audits. Over the last seven years, OLMS has performed audits of 3,267 union financial statements, resulting in 827 indictments and 790 convictions. In addition, courts have ordered more than $100 million in restitution to union members during the same time period.
OLMS funding has not kept pace with that of other enforcement agencies. For example, the Senate for Fiscal Year 2008 provides a $12.8 million increase in funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission — the oversight agency for publicly traded companies — while actually cutting funds from OLMS.