I applauded President Barack Obama's commitment to a new era of openness. He pledged, "Let me say it as clearly as I can: transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."
Then why is he helping unions hide information from their members?
Over the last eight years, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao modernized the reports the unions file under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. These reports are posted online, and provide union members with detailed information about union income, expenditures, officer salaries, and other financial information. The requirements, initially championed by John F. Kennedy when he was a senator, require unions to operate in a transparent fashion with their members. This transparency has helped publicize some questionable spending by union officials, including huge outlays for booze, movie tickets, steak dinners, golf outings, and equestrian dinner theater (yes—a horse show with food).
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.
On January 30, the Obama administration announced plans to delay implementation of the rule by 60 days. The office is also seeking comments "on the merits of rescinding or retaining the rule."
And that’s not all. An AFL-CIO memorandum obtained from Obama’s transition team details organized labor’s wish list for the new administration.
The AFL-CIO’s “Priorities for Day 1” include halting implementation of disclosure rules than have not gone into effect—a recommendation Obama followed with the January 30 rule delay.
Especially in a state like California, where financially supporting a union is a condition of employment whether or not I choose to be a member, can anyone honestly argue that unions should not have to detail how their (extorted) money is spent?