The House passed a paycheck protection bill on Thursday. The idea behind it—that a worker should be able to choose whether or not to support the politics of his or her union—is commendable. If this bill makes it through the legislative process, it will be a good thing for the public employees covered by the bill.
However, I would like to raise an issue with the language of the bill. The bill includes a financial disclosure provision that appears to require some government unions (fire and police unions are excluded) to make the same sorts of financial disclosures the private sector unions already have to make. As the bill is currently written, these financial disclosures lack teeth.
- For one, a worker has to request the union’s financials in order to access them. This could paint a target on the back of any whistleblower who wanted to report irregularities in the way union executives are recording their finances.
- Secondly, the financial information doesn’t have to be reported to any government agency or made publicly available. Private sector unions have had to make public financial filings with the government for decades. Why should public sector unions be less transparent than private sector unions? And shouldn’t the public have a right to know how government unions are spending taxpayer funded dues?
- Finally, the bill is written in such a way that government union executives can shred their financial documents after five years. Who benefits from this?
Make no mistake: requiring unions to make their financial information available to their members is a good idea. But the financial disclosure provisions in the paycheck protection bill need to be changed, if they are to be worth anything.
To underscore the need for financial disclosures, I have included a link (below) showing a list of dozens of federal embezzlement charges brought against the Communication Workers of America (CWA) executives over the past few years. CWA represents some of Missouri’s state employees, and its leadership is vehemently opposed to having to make meaningful financial filings.