UFCW Worker Sues US Labor Secretary

Chris Mosquera of Rockville, MD has filed a lawsuit against U.S. Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis. His complaint: the Obama administration official has overturned a transparency rule that requires unions such as his to disclose critical financial information about their activities.

In his own words from a Washington Examiner article:

Under the proposed guidelines, union officials would have to disclose how much individual compensation they receive in the form of benefits, account for any travel and entertainment expenses, and identify union income streams.

The fact is most workers want more information about how their money is being spent by union officials. Last year, a poll revealed that nearly 90 percent of union members support strong union transparency requirements.

Disclosure is a simple but effective tool for fighting corruption and encouraging accountability. If union officials know their spending habits are part of the public record, they’ll be less interested in expensive getaways and more interested in effectively managing their members’ hard-earned dues.

That’s why I filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to stop Solis from rolling back these vital union transparency requirements. Union officials shouldn’t be allowed to operate behind closed doors when billions of dollars of employees’ hard-earned money is at stake.

The rule Mosquera speaks of introduces some very common-sense accountability requirements for union leaders. They would show more of what the union leaders are actually doing with their member’s dues money beyond merely recording expenses and revenue:

Under the current rule, unions are required to report salaries of union leaders, revenue and expenditures. A new rule, which took effect in June 2009 and was repealed in October 2009, would have expanded those requirements.

Under the now-repealed rule, union officials were required to report deferred benefits, such as union cars and tickets to sporting events, provide more information about business transactions and report detailed travel and entertainment expenses.

Meanwhile, there has been very little in the way of defense of this change. The Labor Department has not issued an explanation and declined to comment on the issue:

A spokesman for the Labor Department declined to comment about legal matters. …

[Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Patrick] Semmens said Solis repealed the rule because the enhanced reporting was burdensome to union leaders. The Labor Department did not provide an explanation.

This is an obvious bone the Obama administration is tossing Big Labor Unions like the UFCW in reward for their support during his campaign. They have been recently making noise about not being catered to enough– this is the administration’s attempt to help pay them back, even at the expense of transparency and openness about how union worker’s dues money is spent.

For leading the “most transparent administration in history”, the Obama administration has certainly done a lot to obfuscate knowledge and information when it comes to union organization practices. Fortunately, at least one member of the UFCW has taken things into his own hands to try and correct the matter.

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