Economy & Budget

Obama Cuts Funds for Union Corruption Busters

The President’s fiscal year 2010 budget for the federal government was just unveiled, and, surprisingly, he found one agency that he thinks deserves a 9% budget cut: This agency is the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) in the U.S. Department of Labor. Obama proposed to cut its budget from $45 million in fiscal year 2009 to $41 million in fiscal year 2010.

Ignoring Union Members

OLMS is the federal agency that investigates financial crimes that occur when union officials steal from their union. OLMS also investigates cases where union officials engage in fraud and other corrupt practices in conducting union officer elections.

Over the last eight years, this office secured over 900 criminal convictions of union officials for embezzlement and other crimes and obtained court orders of over $91 million — dollars that will be returned to union members. One would think that given Obama’s emphasis on helping unions that he would want to beef up the only agency in the federal government that watches out for union members and prosecutes those who steal from them.

Other Enforcement Boosted

However, apparently Obama believes that there is no need to prosecute those union officials who steal from their members because his budget cuts this agency, while at the same time other enforcement agencies in the Labor Department are given a huge boost. For instance, the Wage and Hour Division in the Labor Department received a boost of 18%, from $201 million in fiscal year 2009 to $238 in fiscal year 2010.

In the last appropriations cycle OLMS was the only agency in the entire Labor Department that was targeted by congressional Democrats for a budget cut. Democrats were successful in cutting the budget from $47 million to $45. Now with a Democratic President in the White House and Democratic control of Congress one can only wonder where the final budget number will land.

The loss of $4 million, millions that are being shifted to other programs such as the Wage and Hour Division, will most certainly result in a reduction of the ability of OLMS to prosecute those who steal from the working man and woman.

Campaign Payback to Unions

My quick back-of-the-envelope calculations lead me to believe that OLMS is probably looking at staff reductions in the neighborhood of 40-50 personnel. This is significant for an agency that has slightly over 300 personnel nationwide.

Union officials invested very heavily to elect Obama and now that investment is paying dividends by the truckload. As ALG News has previously chronicled, the Obama payback to unions began immediately after he was sworn in and is continuing.

Now the list of huge favors given by Obama to unions includes cutting the only watchdog that helps keep unions honest. Given the huge budget increases to other areas of the Labor Department it cannot be said that the cuts to OLMS were done in the name of fiscal responsibility. Obama should have cut the real fat in the Labor Department budget and left OLMS, a little agency that is less than one-tenth of 1% of the Labor Department’s budget, alone.

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