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house Bill H.R. 1129

Should Unions Be Prohibited From Retaliating Against Whistleblowers & Disclose How They Spend Members’ Dues?

Argument in favor

Labor union members should know how their union is using their dues. They should also have the same whistleblower protections as other workers in order to report improper behavior in their organizations. Ensuring that labor unions act appropriately is good for their members and the overall labor movement.

jimK's Opinion
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09/03/2019
Years ago, I knew a person who was kind of a minor officer in a teamsters local. Every Christmas the union would give him a new wallet filled with hundreds of undeclared dollars, sometimes also undeclared weapons. This was some time ago so my observations may not be relevant today. If a union’s expenditures are not fully monitored with the same intensity as income, as they were not in the case of my friend, then some oversight is necessary. However, I have difficulty supporting this legislation. This appears to be a round-about Republican attempt to undermine unions since the justification covers many issues already covered by current laws. So I have flipped between YEA and NAY several times as I have thought about this. While I suspect ulterior Republican motives, I think an accounting of union expenditures is warranted. As far as whistle-blower protection, there won’t be any because there won’t be any realistic way to enforce it.
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Gopin2020's Opinion
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09/02/2019
I fully support and recommend passage of this bill. Members have a right to know how their dues are being spent. #MAGA
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RAN's Opinion
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09/02/2019
Yes, i am completely for this. The misuse of their peoples money is astounding, and their contributors should know. There shouldn’t be unions, it’s a scam!
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Argument opposed

The proposed changes to labor union reporting requirements that this bill would do little to actually improve accountability by labor unions in how they spend members’ dues. Instead, they would impose a more onerous administrative burden on unions, which could in turn weaken the overall labor movement.

Paul's Opinion
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09/02/2019
You all realize this is already a law? Unions are required to file a Labor Management report every year that is financial disclosure, this disclosure is posted of the Department of Labor’s website and anyone can look at those disclosures. Whistleblowers are protected by the NRLB and Union can and are prosecuted for retaliation. So why do we need this law, when it already is covered?
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Mark's Opinion
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09/02/2019
When trump releases his tax returns we can talk about transparency.
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Jim2423's Opinion
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09/02/2019
Most unions already disclose how dues are paid. There should be a law as to how expenses are dispersed and shown to members. Unions are no different than any other business and must be accountable. As far as whistle blowers I thought they would already be protected. At least with the IBEW they were.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
    IntroducedFebruary 8th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1129?

This bill — the Union Transparency and Accountability Act — would require labor organizations to file certain disclosure forms detailing expenditures of union dues, impose civil fines on labor organizations that fail to file required disclosures, and make it unlawful for any labor organization to discharge or discriminate against any employee who has filed a whistleblower complaint or who is testifying in a disclosure proceeding.

These changes to the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) were first proposed during the George W. Bush administration, then retracted by the Obama administration.

Impact

Workers; labor unions; and the LMRDA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1129

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to codify the Bush administration’s proposed reporting requirements as part of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). In a March 2019 op-ed in The Hill, Rep. Rooney wrote: 

“The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA)... creates accountability by requiring unions to file financial disclosure reports with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), allowing workers to see how their union dues are spent, but the current application of the law is clearly insufficient to prevent fraud and abuse by union leaders… [T]he Department of Labor (DOL) under President George W. Bush proposed rules to increase transparency by requiring more detailed reporting. The rules would have required unions to disclose the name of any party buying or selling union assets of $5,000 or more, required more union officials to declare whether they receive any income or economic benefit from an entity that does business with the union or employs union members, and required union trusts—organizations such as strike funds and apprenticeship programs set up to benefit workers—to file their own separate financial disclosures… [T]he Obama administration… retracted all of these proposed rules, limiting the public detail available to workers regarding how their own union dues are spent. The Trump administration DOL plans to promulgate rules to increase union financial transparency, but workers’ ability to see how their own hard-earned dollars are spent shouldn’t be dependent on which party occupies the White House. That is why I am reintroducing the Union Transparency and Accountability Act, a bill which would codify the Bush administration’s proposed reporting requirements as part of the LMRDA. As long as workers are forced to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment and forced to accept workplace representation from that union, they should be able to see in detail how the union’s leadership spends their hard-earned dollars… Strengthening the LMRDA through more detailed reporting requirements would make unions more effective and accountable, and better empower the American worker—something every member of Congress regardless of party desires to accomplish.”

When he introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, he said

“Transparency within unions is critical to root out corruption and hold union bosses accountable. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration repealed rules that increased financial transparency within unions to protect workers from misuse of their dues. I am introducing the Union Transparency and Accountability Act to reinstate rules which will require unions and their leaders to submit detailed financial disclosures to prevent fraud and embezzlement… The Union Transparency and Accountability Act would assist in achieving the goal of protecting union members and empowering them to hold their local unions accountable.”

In a separate statement in 2018, Rep. Rooney explained the need for this bill

“Currently, union employees who uncover and report misconduct are vulnerable to retaliation by unions. This must be changed to protect these brave whistle blowers from corrupt union bosses who threaten them or unfairly fire them. Corruption in unions is rampant; for example, high-ranking officers at the United Auto Workers (UAW) have been caught taking bribes. Without whistle blower protections, rank-and-file union employees are afraid to report these actions for fears of losing their jobs. The Union Integrity Act will right this wrong and protect union whistle blowers from being fired for reporting illegal behaviors, the same protections government and private business employees enjoy. This will encourage workers to report corruption and stop union abuse of employees.”

In a February 2015 article in Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, John Logan compared the Bush and Obama administrations’ differing stances in regard to the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). He argued that the Bush era labor union law reforms — including the proposed LMRDA rules changes — ”did little or nothing to achieve greater [union] accountability and may instead have been motivated largely by a desire to impose a more onerous administrative burden on reporting unions.”

James Sherk, a Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation, writes in support of whistleblower protections for labor union employees:

“Union employees need whistleblower protections as much as employees of other organizations… Union officers are only human. The Office of Labor-Management Standards convicts about 100 union officials a year for embezzling or misappropriating funds. The people most likely to witness such abuses are union employees. The law puts them in an impossible situation: If they keep silent, they can be sued for breach of their fiduciary duty. But if they speak up, they can be fired… Union employees should be free to speak up about corruption or violations of their unions’ fiduciary duties. A union employee should not have to choose between paying his mortgage and following his conscience. This is a bipartisan principle. As George Miller (D–CA), ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, stated when arguing for other whistleblower reforms, ‘It’s deeply troubling that workers who risk everything to blow the whistle on fraud and other serious matters remain exposed to employer retaliation and other harms.’ Unions should not be permitted to retaliate against employees who expose corruption. Congress should create whistleblower protections for union employees under the Labor–Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. This would protect honest union officers and encourage them to reveal corruption—helping to root out corruption in the union movement. A union employee who witnesses misconduct should not have to choose between his conscience and his job.”

The Trump administration supports this legislation. In response to the administration’s support, Rep. Rooney says, “Transparency within unions is critical to protect workers and root out corruption by holding union bosses accountable. I am encouraged by the administration’s commitment making transparency a priority and holding unions leaders accountable. This rule seeks to prevent fraud and embezzlement by union bosses, one of my key priorities.”

This legislation has one cosponsor, Rep. David Poe (R-TN), in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it had two Republican cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteThe LMRDA, also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, was passed in 1959 after more than two years of Senate investigations into widespread corruption in the organized labor movement, particularly in major unions such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Mine Workers, and International Longshoremen Workers Union. At the time, the hope was that new financial disclosure requirements imposed by the LMRDA would empower rank-and-file union members and make unions more accountable to their membership and, therefore, less corrupt overall. 

The LMRDA also imposed a requirement on disclosing union-busting activity through “union avoidance” consultants. Under the LMRDA, when an employer hires a consultant to “directly or indirectly” persuade employees not to exercise their right to unionize, both the employer and the consultant have to disclose that an agreement exists, and how much is being paid for it.

There are numerous laws in the U.S. protecting whistleblowers in general, including the Americans With Disabilities Act, Superfund Law, and Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Federal employees are covered by a separate Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, which was intended to fight union protection, seems to provide whistleblower protections in union cases. However, the Supreme Court ruled in Finnegan v. Leu (1982) that whistleblower protection law only applies to rank-and-file union members, and not to employees of the union itself, except in cases involving expropriation of pension funds.

As a result, union employees are not shielded from retaliation from their unions. Existing whistleblower provisions prohibit retaliation against an employee for reporting violations of the law that the employer is included in (i.e.g, dumping toxic waste or using child labor), but don’t protect employees from being fired for exposing corruption or other misconduct. Thus, union presidents can legally fire employees for exposing corruption, and senior union officials can be fired by union presidents for virtually any reason, including reporting misconduct. Nothing in the law shields union officials from retaliation for whistleblowing, even though they’re the people most likely to uncover corruption.

This has had serious consequences for some union employees, such as Rian Wathen, Peggy Collins, and Herman Jackson — former officers of the United Food Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 700 in Indianapolis who alleged that their union president was using union funds for his own benefit. When they went to their Local’s executive board with their allegations, they were fired by the president the next day. The UFCW International later denied their attempts to appeal their terminations.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / jcphoto)

AKA

Union Transparency and Accountability Act

Official Title

To ensure labor organization transparency and accountability.

    Years ago, I knew a person who was kind of a minor officer in a teamsters local. Every Christmas the union would give him a new wallet filled with hundreds of undeclared dollars, sometimes also undeclared weapons. This was some time ago so my observations may not be relevant today. If a union’s expenditures are not fully monitored with the same intensity as income, as they were not in the case of my friend, then some oversight is necessary. However, I have difficulty supporting this legislation. This appears to be a round-about Republican attempt to undermine unions since the justification covers many issues already covered by current laws. So I have flipped between YEA and NAY several times as I have thought about this. While I suspect ulterior Republican motives, I think an accounting of union expenditures is warranted. As far as whistle-blower protection, there won’t be any because there won’t be any realistic way to enforce it.
    Like (38)
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    You all realize this is already a law? Unions are required to file a Labor Management report every year that is financial disclosure, this disclosure is posted of the Department of Labor’s website and anyone can look at those disclosures. Whistleblowers are protected by the NRLB and Union can and are prosecuted for retaliation. So why do we need this law, when it already is covered?
    Like (60)
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    When trump releases his tax returns we can talk about transparency.
    Like (42)
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    I fully support and recommend passage of this bill. Members have a right to know how their dues are being spent. #MAGA
    Like (27)
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    Most unions already disclose how dues are paid. There should be a law as to how expenses are dispersed and shown to members. Unions are no different than any other business and must be accountable. As far as whistle blowers I thought they would already be protected. At least with the IBEW they were.
    Like (24)
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    Yes, i am completely for this. The misuse of their peoples money is astounding, and their contributors should know. There shouldn’t be unions, it’s a scam!
    Like (20)
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    Yes. Common sense legislation.
    Like (16)
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    This is another attempt to weaken unions and worker rights. It’s being reintroduced by a republican, they have never been for worker rights.
    Like (14)
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    I do not trust a republican congressman to protect whistleblowers.
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    Unions are already required to disclose all of this information to the government also, it’s also already illegal to retaliate against any “whistleblower”. This is just more anti-union rhetoric.
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    EVERYTHING needs sunlight to stay clean. Everything.
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    An ever growing list of trumps accomplishments and of those in congress who support him: Most recent: Offering pardons to those who would break federal law in order to help him win re-election. Thinks nuking a hurricane is an idea. His own company would save millions from the low interest rates he is demanding. Was going to give you tax cuts but decided not to. Destroying the economy with HIS trade war. We will soon average a 1.2 trillion deficit. He is repeating NRA talking points on background checks so expect no action taken regardless of the fact there has been 27 arrested over threats to commit mass attacks since El Paso( NOT TOLEDO). Made fun of republicans being afraid of the NRA and then caved after a 30 minute phone conversation with them. Bragged about indefinite child detention because it brings families together. Refusing flue shots, that protect us all(google influenza pandemic), to immigrant children. Attacking fellow congresswomen in really disgusting ways and making anti-Semitic remarks about Jews calling them disloyal. Thinks he’s the chosen one based on a conspiracy theory web sight. Impeachment: Obstruction of Justice. Profiting from the Presidency. Collusion - They had a meeting & lied about it. Advocating political & police violence. Abuse of power. Engaging in reckless behavior. Persecuting political opponents. Attacking the free press. Violating immigrants Right to Due Process. Violating campaign finance laws. Racist: Speaks directly to and often tweeting straight from white supremacists. Calls them very fine people. Told fellow congresswomen to go back where they came from. Called them shit hole countries. Called them murderers and rapists. Calls her Pocahontas. Took out full page adds calling for the death of five innocent black kids in New York, 1989. Literally has said in an interview he has Hitlers speeches, My New Order in his nightstand. Our Money: Spent campaign finance money on hush payments to silence a porn star he had an affair with in order to hide it from the voters. Has spent over $100 million of our tax dollars playing golf at his own golf courses. Has never divested from companies and advertises and profits off the White House. Was going to cut Medicaid and Medicare funding to pay for the tax cuts he gave to the rich. Is actively destroying farmers lives with his trade wars that we all know only hurts our pockets not Chinas. Has made the lives of every truck driver across America as well as our own, more dangerous by removing safety regulations that only benefits the pockets of the CEOs of those companies. Has removed any and all protections we had in place from work safety, environment, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and gives that power back to the CEOs, oil companies, men and old white men. Saudi funded lobbyist rented 500 rooms at a trump hotel he never divested from right after he became president. Wonder why? Sexual Predator: Accused by more than 20 women of molestation and rape. Bragged about said molestation on tape. Has cheated on all three wives (see above). Has made sexual remarks on camera about his daughter. Belittles and bully’s strong women. Not even sure he’s aware he has two daughters. Idiot: Took the side of Putin over America’s own security agencies on the national stage. Lacks the intelligence and facts needed to communicate on a global level much less national one. Makes policy decisions based on FOX media. Lies when speaks. Doesn’t believe in science and quite often displays his ignorance of it. Russia: Lied about meetings with Russians. Lied about a trump tower Moscow. Personal attorney Michael Cohen (same guy who broke campaign finance laws under trumps direction) had contacts with russian officials. National Security aide Flynn resigned over Russian contacts. Jeff Sessions recused himself because of Russian contacts. Manafort resigned because of Russian contacts. Campaign foreign policy adviser Papadopoulos met with Russians then bragged about it to Australians who then turned that info over to our FBI. Sixteen campaign officials had contacts with Russia and at least nine others new about it. Russian mobster lived in trump tower. trump casino was flagged 106 times for lax money laundering standards and same Russian frequently stayed at trump casino. Has been selling real estate to Russians for years. It really is surprising how many connections to Russians this man has. Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Bill Posey You are my representatives. OLC policy: The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. It’s time to do your job. You swore an oath to this country, it’s people and me to uphold the constitution. The president has never upheld that oath. How do you want to be remembered?
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    Yes, absolutely
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    I’m in full agreement with and recommend the passage of House Bill-1129 AKA the Union Transparency and Accountability Act which would require labor organizations to file certain disclosure forms detailing expenditures of union dues, impose civil fines on labor organizations that fail to file required disclosures, and make it unlawful for any labor organization to discharge or discriminate against any employee who has filed a whistleblower complaint or who is testifying in a disclosure proceeding. Labor union members should know how their union is using their dues. They should also have the same whistleblower protections as other workers in order to report improper behavior in their organizations. Ensuring that labor unions act appropriately is good for their members and the overall labor movement. SneakyPete.......... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 9.2.19..........
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    This is already in effect. This is just the righteous (when it suits them) trying to rile their base up into thinking Unions are bad for them. Nice try. Now, can we legislate something worthwhile, like gun control, immigration, education, climate change, higher taxes on the wealthy. I could go on and on and on and on and on... Just another b.s. bill, from another idiot Repugnant.
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    Transparency can aide in keeping the honest, honest.
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    Unions are the reason we have laws governing child labor, a weekend, an 8 hour workday, and safety protections. Anti-labor legislation and people who work against unions are evil and can kiss my AFL ass.
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    Whistle blowers should be protected from any retaliation by those they are bringing to justice.
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    Republican bill designed to weaken unions by giving them undue administrative burdens. They would never do this to big pharma, Wall Street, their buddies. But a group that defends workers? Of course!
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    Hold Unions accountable. No free lunch.
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