Happy Labor Day, y’all

The Washington Examiner editorializes further today in anticipation of Labor Day, this time on the efforts by Democrats in Congress to cut the buget of the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards. Now, Democrats wanting to cut a government agency’s budget is a story that should attract man-bites-dog attention, so what’s the catch? This is the agency that enforces disclosure requirements for union finances.

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao made a priority of finally putting teeth into the 1959 Landrum-Griffin Act, which required that unions make public credible information concerning how they spend their money, most of which comes from members’ dues. Until Bush and Chao came along, however, the union chieftains and their buddies in the Labor Department bureaucracy essentially ignored the disclosure requirement.

That ended when Chao updated the LM-2 disclosure forms, requiring labor unions with at least $250,000 in annual receipts to file more detailed reports, and then had the audacity to enforce compliance by recalcitrant union officials. The degree of complexity and sensitivity of the data required in the new LM-2 pales beside the thousands of separate disclosure mandates imposed on public companies…

That’s the kind of information more than a few union leaders are loathe to disclose. Since 2001, OLMS has secured 810 indictments with 781 convictions of union officials for failure to comply with LM-2 requirements. Courts have also ordered more than $100 million in restitution to union workers…

This picture seems counterintuitive. So are the unions and their Democrat allies defenders of financial privacy? Yes, when it comes to income received through compulsion.

It would be nice to do away with many government bureaucracies, including this one, but OLMS’s mission is to enforce laws that were enacted to mitigate a problem that Congress created the first place, when it enacted the National Labor Relations Act (also known as the Wagner Act). The Wagner Act enshrined into law the principle of exclusive representation — it gave unions the power to act as a monopoly bargaining agent for all workers in a company, regardless of whether any of those workers would like to opt out of said representation.

Having to join a union to keep their jobs, workers then have to fork over union dues, which union officials use for a variety of purposes in addition to representing workers in employment matters, including politics.

Today, 22 states allow workers to opt out of union membership through right-to-work laws. It’s time for the rest of the country to catch up. Until that happens, though, enjoy this Labor Day!