Defiance, not Deterrence
Many union leaders openly defy the LMRDA’s provisions. In 2010, 11.4 percent of unions failed to submit their LM forms on time and another 3% submitted woefully incomplete reports. Without an effective and efficient enforcement mechanism, the LMRDA has failed to deter union leaders from embezzling their member’s hard-earned dues.
To put the scope of union corruption into perspective, the Center for Union Facts (CUF) analyzed more than 1,400 cases reported by the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS), which is responsible for enforcing the LMRDA. Each case was categorized by (a) the union involved, (b) whether a conviction resulted from the Office’s investigation, and the (c) amount of money embezzled or paid in restitution.
Since 2001, the OLMS has convicted 581 union officials for violating the LMRDA, including “embezzlement, filing false reports, keeping false records, destruction of records, extortionate picketing and deprivation of rights by violence.” Those crimes accounted for more than $100 million in lost union assets. Very few cases include specific punitive damages assessed in court.
While embezzlement is a problem for the entire labor movement, certain unions commit a disproportionate number of crimes given their size. This is likely the result of poor internal financial systems, organized crime influence, or a criminal culture within the union.
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