On Dec. 17, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed a regulation that would require mid-level public-sector unions (i.e., state, regional, or district affiliates of national-level unions) to disclose their finances to the federal government if their parent organizations represent private-sector workers.
What are the current regulations? Since 2010, mid-level unions representing public-sector employees exclusively have not been subject to federal financial reporting requirements, even if their parent unions do represent some private-sector workers. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act requires all unions representing private-sector workers to file regular financial disclosure reports with the U.S. Department of Labor.
What is the proposed regulation? The proposed regulation would restore a 2003 rule that required intermediate public-sector union affiliates to disclose their finances if their parent unions represented some private-sector workers. The 2003 rule was enacted by the Bush administration and later rescinded by the Obama administration. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the proposal would result in expanded disclosure filings by mid-level affiliates of the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the International Association of Firefighters. Membership and financial figures for these unions are as follows:
- National Education Association: 2,975,933 members; $390,082,960 total receipts; $420,114,327 total disbursements
- American Federation of Teachers: 1,684,544 members; $246,338,645 total receipts; $264,119,521 total disbursements
- Fraternal Order of Police: 350,175 members; $7,962,845 total receipts; $7,012,856 total disbursements
- International Association of Firefighters: 318,684 members; $79,593,001 total receipts; $79,422,407 total disbursements
What are the reactions?
- In July 2018, the Department of Labor indicated it was considering the rule change. At that time, NEA general counsel Alice O’Brien said, “Given the strength of the pedigree of the current rule, any attempt by DOL to proceed with the proposed rule would be another attack on unions by this administration.”
- Also in July 2018, Glenn Spencer, vice president of employment policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “The [Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act] is meant to be construed broadly and it’s meant to extend coverage as widely as possible.”
What comes next? The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 17. The Department of Labor will accept public comments on the proposal until Feb. 18, 2020.
What we’ve been reading
- Labor Pains, “Sensible Labor Reform: The Gift That Keeps on Giving,” Dec. 17, 2019
- New York Law Journal, “Service Workers’ Group Asks Court to Halt Trump Orders on Public-Sector Union Rights,” Dec. 16, 2019
- The National Law Review, “Top Five Labor Law Developments for November 2019,” Dec. 16, 2019
- Bloomberg Law, “Trump Proposes Rule Targeting Public-Sector Union Finances,” Dec. 16, 2019
The big picture
Number of relevant bills by state
We are currently tracking 107 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.
Number of relevant bills by current legislative status
Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)
Recent legislative actions
No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.