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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
      House Committee on Education and the Workforce
    IntroducedSeptember 26th, 2018

What is it?

This bill — known as the Union Integrity Act — would provide whistleblower protection for union employees reporting misconduct at their unions, ensuring that they couldn’t be fired or face other retaliation. Under current law, employees of unions can be fired in retaliation for reporting misconduct as whistleblower protections only cover rank-and-file members.

Specifically, whistleblowers would be protected from termination or other retaliation for:

  • Providing information to the union, Dept. of Labor (DOL), or any other state, local, or federal government authorities or law enforcement agencies about violations of the Union Integrity Act or any other laws under the jurisdiction of the DOL or National Labor Relations Board (NLRB);

  • Testifying in any DOL or NLRB administrative or enforcement proceeding; or

  • Refusing to perform an assigned task that they believe to be in violation or any law, order, or prohibition enforced by DOL or the NLRB.

Impact

Unions; union employees; union leadership; union whistleblowers; DOL; NLRB; DOL proceedings involving union whistleblowers; and NLRB proceedings involving union whistleblowers.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) introduced this bill to protect union whistleblowers:

“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 whistleblower 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 whistleblowers 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.”

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.”

This bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce with the support of three cosponsors, all of whom are Republicans.


Of NoteThere 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 / designer491)

AKA

Union Integrity Act

Official Title

To amend the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 to provide whistleblower protection for union employees.

    Unions need to be regulated too... if the unions member don’t police their own fat cats, then they’re just as corrupt as the companies they fight against for fair wage living and benefits
    Like (93)
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    In theory, this is a great idea. The way the GOP want it is just to dredge up dirt on unions without equal transparency for the company
    Like (67)
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    Another Republican attack on unions. Don't be fooled.
    Like (49)
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    Turning in wrong doing in the work place or government is something that is necessary and should be protected
    Like (43)
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    Individual rights and justice should be protected.
    Like (41)
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    While I initially support this measure, I am very very weary because the federal government has historically hated unions and found any means necessary to halt their effectiveness under the guise of fairness. I can ONLY support this measure if there is abundant protections for union rights in the writing and absolutely no hidden language allowing the federal government to enforce unfair punishments.
    Like (40)
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    It’s a no brainer. Anyone who reports misconduct should be protected from retaliation.
    Like (20)
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    Absolutely. I support this
    Like (17)
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    I support protection for whistleblowers, but solely focusing on unions and not companies or other organizations is a telling sign.
    Like (17)
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    If Unions are to be taken seriously, they need regulation as well. Standing for a Union is an honorable thing as a worker in the middle class, but without rules Unions are disastrous.
    Like (15)
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    Common sense... if the law actually works as simply as it reads.
    Like (13)
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    Unions are the reason why so many companies have left the United States in search of lower paying workers. That is a free market and capitalistic world we live in but unions need to be severely regulated. They claim to protect workers but then throw them away when it affects the union hierarchy. If we as decent minded people cannot show the unions that control a vast majority of the industrial sector that we deserve better than they can provide, than unions should be dismantled. On top of that, this bill helps protect what we are calling “whistleblowers” now but in reality it is for the protection of those who are doing things right. Relaying information to the authorities on injustices of the system within the union. If we cannot be protected from the evils of a union but are forced to participate in one, than you’ll never be freed from its Communist hands. Pass and sign.
    Like (10)
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    People who witness unethical behavior that hurts others should absolutely be protected. It’s called “Doing the right thing” Lets get back to valuing doing the right thing. It’s being ethical and having a moral compass. Unfortunately in short supply in this country right now.
    Like (6)
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    Unions are the only way this country has left to avoid a violent class revolution. If the Billionaire's Club is smart, they'll embrace that, and quit trying to eliminate unions in the workplace. After all, if abused workers can't strike, what recourse have they left but to riot?
    Like (6)
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    No duh. Of course!
    Like (5)
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    Yes. Wrong doers can't be counted on to tell on the truth when they do wrong. Whistleblowers need to be protected.
    Like (5)
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    All whistleblowers should have protection from retaliation, firing, demotions, etc. They have the courage to come forward with wrongdoing and should be rewarded, not punished.
    Like (5)
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    Another “Why are we asking this?” moment.
    Like (5)
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    Good luck with that. Union bosses are in bed with many Democrat politicians therefore this is unlikely to pass, especially if Democrats win the House.
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    Why not? Especially turning in Union corruption
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