New Union Finance Reporting Rules Impending

The Department of Labor likely will be issuing new financial reporting rules for unions and their affiliates (like worker centers).  Federal laws, such as the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, require unions to file certain financial disclosure documents with the Department of Labor detailing how they are spending their members’ dues money (e.g., officer salaries, etc.).

There is a need to clarify financial reporting requirements for unions. National unions can represent a combination of government workers and private sector employees through local chapters.  The unions also have regional labor councils and offices that do not bargain directly for employees, but are affiliated with the union. Those regional offices should have to disclose their finances.  Technically, those councils do represent workers, “because you supervise locals in the field who directly represent workers.” If those local chapters represent both private and public sector workers, those entities should be submitting financial disclosures. If it is clear that a union only represents public workers, then the disclosure law does not apply.

Former President George W. Bush’s administration attempted to enact similar rules years ago but was defeated by the unions’ opposition. Unions are likely to mount such challenges again because of the steep administrative costs the additional reporting requirements could impose on them especially since many union bank accounts will be pinched as a result of the recent Janus decision issued by the United States Supreme Court.

Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can reach Matt by calling him at (614) 843-3041 or emailing him at