April 17, 2005


Labor Dept. Plans Increasing Scrutiny of Union Finances (STEVEN GREENHOUSE, 4/17/05, NY Times)

The Bush administration is rapidly expanding audits of the nation's labor unions, citing a need to ferret out and deter corruption. But union leaders assert that those increased efforts are nothing more than crude political retaliation.

Pointing to embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the presidents of the ironworkers union and Washington's teachers union, Labor Department officials say the number of audits fell too far in the 1990's and needs to be restored to previous levels.

They note that the number of national unions and locals that were audited fell to 206 in 2000, from 1,080 in 1991. By contrast, the department did more than 500 audits last year and hopes to do even more this year. To bolster its drive further, it expects to add 48 full-time workers to its union-auditing unit this year, a 14 percent increase, despite cuts in other areas.

"I think you need a minimum level of enforcement, which is something I don't think this agency was able to do for a while," said Lary F. Yud, deputy director of the Labor Department office that investigates unions. "I think we need to do a certain level of audits in order to create an effective deterrent."

Labor leaders see the new effort as retaliation for their nearly unanimous support for Senator John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.

They go after a cipher like Tom DeLay, we go after their base--who wins?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2005 1:15 PM

The big money unions like the Teamsters have always been smart enough to pay off the relevant people in both parties, thus avoiding important prosecutions. Exceptions might be the UAW, which has an extreme ideological bias, and the SEIU, who appear to be brain-dead.

Posted by: bart at April 17, 2005 2:03 PM

Seeing as the Teamsters were being run by a Justice Department trustee not too long ago, I'm not sure that they're paying off the right people.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 17, 2005 2:22 PM

It was the Clinton Justice Department, wasn't it?

Posted by: bart at April 17, 2005 3:09 PM

Wait a minute, organized labor monopolies have a special place in the law. See 'labor theory of value'.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at April 19, 2005 7:24 AM