Now that the Republicans will soon control the House, everyone expects President Barack Obama to start actively exercising his executive authority.
But Beltway observers have been so focused on legislative battles that few people have bothered to notice that the executive branch has already launched major regulatory assault in order to pay back Democrats’ union allies.
Almost all of the Obama administration’s changes to labor laws involve reducing union transparency, denying workers a chance to hold union leaders accountable or otherwise have a say in how their workplace is run.
Two weeks ago, the Department of Labor announced it was doing away with the requirement that unions fill out a Form T-1 detailing how union trusts — commonly used to hold strike funds — are spent.
Union trusts are often used for specious purposes. In 2008, the Mackinac Center in Michigan determined unions in that state had used such funds to sponsor NASCAR races and pay for lavish receptions at political conventions and in Las Vegas.
The Labor Department has rescinded tougher requirements on the standard union financial disclosure form, the LM-2.
“The old versions of the forms provided union members with virtually no useful information about how their union spent their dues,” Heritage Foundation labor expert James Sherk said.
Hilda Solis, Obama’s secretary of labor, said LM-2 transparency requirements are onerous and unnecessary. But that doesn’t square with the facts. Since 2001, OLMS has indicted more than 1,000 union officials, winning at least 929 convictions for a wide range of criminal activities, including fraud, misrepresentation and embezzlement.
No wonder a 2004 poll by the Mackinac Center found that only 42 percent of union workers believed the bulk of union funds were spent “helping workers get better pay, benefits and working conditions.”
Outside of the Labor Department, Obama gave radical union lawyer Craig Becker a recess appointment to the National Labor Relations Board after his nomination was rejected in a bipartisan vote by the Senate.
Becker — who formerly represented the AFL-CIO, SEIU and other top unions — has brazenly ignored the obvious conflicts of interest that attend his service on the NLRB. He refused, for example, to recuse himself from a case earlier this year involving his former employer, the SEIU.
Becker recently voted to revisit a 2007 NLRB decision, despite having filed a brief as a lawyer in the original case, which involves Card Check. That’s the union-favored process that abolishes the secret ballot in workplace representation elections.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform, has questioned Becker’s conduct. House Republicans should demand explanations from Obama, Solis and Becker.
The American people need to know how hiding union expenditures and denying workers a secret ballot in workplace elections can possibly be a good thing for anybody other than union bosses and their favored politicians.
Mark Hemingway is an editorial page staff writer for The Washington Examiner.