Starting next year, union members will have an even better picture of how their union dues are being spent. The Department of Labor has recently finalized new rules requiring union-controlled trusts to file financial disclosure forms. The disclosures for union-controlled trusts complement the disclosure requirements already established for unions.
How will union transparency fare with a new Congress and incoming Obama administration? One of the major accomplishments of the Department of Labor under Secretary Elaine Chao was to create UnionReports.gov, an easy-to-use online database of spending by unions.
At UnionReports.gov, you can learn, for instance, that the Service Employees International Union gave Planned Parenthood $10,000 in 2007.
While rolling back reporting requirements is unlikely, there is no guarantee that adequate funding will be provided for the Web site to continue. Without the Web site it would be harder to get the data from the union’s financial disclosure forms. The department is working hard to make sure it has a strong audience for UnionReports.gov, which would make it harder to kill the project.
If you are interested in union accountability, you might want to grab as much data as you can, while the site is still up. Also, increasing traffic for the site wouldn’t hurt the case for continuing the effort.