Friday, April 18, 2003

Moderate Republicans to Bush: Lay off Labor

E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post writes today about moderate, pro-labor Republicans who oppose Bush Administration efforts to harass the labor movement by increasing the burden and complexity of the required LM-2 Financial Reporting form.

The Republicans wrote to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao earlier this month, stating that: "'We believe that union resources are best utilized when representing members during negotiations or grievance handling, not adapting and complying with an unprecedented level of detailed financial information and government forms," they wrote. 'While we share your concern over the burden of government regulation of small businesses, we believe the same standard should apply to labor organizations as well.'"

Dionne describes the recent Administration-Labor relationship: "The reporting rules are just one of many swipes the administration has taken at organized labor. Last year's homeland security bill was held up by a single issue: whether employees of the new department would be guaranteed collective bargaining rights and civil service protections. The president opposed the guarantees. He used the issue to win the 2002 congressional elections, and he got the bill he wanted. The administration quickly deployed its enhanced powers to deny collective bargaining rights to 56,000 newly federalized airport screeners."

Noting efforts by many labor leaders to get past the Ullico scandal by calling for the resignation of Ullico President Robert Georgine, Dionne concludes that: "American workers deserve honest unions. That means they also deserve an administration that doesn't see disabling the labor movement as one of its essential political goals. In their letter, the pro-labor Republicans argued that there are 'better ways to help rank-and-file members obtain useful information about their unions.' Too bad there's not much of an audience in these partisan days for such sweet reasonableness."