Corruption Sparked Disclosure Law

Published February 1, 2008

In 1959, after extensive hearings into labor union corruption, Congress enacted the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act. Among other things, the act required labor unions to file annual financial reports with the U.S. Department of Labor.

The original union financial disclosure forms required by LMRDA, LM-2, provided little information of real value and for all practical purposes were inaccessible to most union members.

While the original purpose of union financial disclosure under LMRDA was to allow union members to monitor their union’s finances, in the case of government employee unions there is a broader need. Government employee unions, particularly at the local government level, have a significant impact on the political process.

In recent years the Office of Labor-Management Standards, the office in the U.S. Department of Labor responsible for enforcing LMRDA, has made significant improvements in the content of the reports and in making them available on the Internet. Organized labor has resisted these needed reforms.

In 1974, after the Watergate scandal, again in an effort to prevent corruption, Congress enacted the Federal Elections Campaign Act, requiring candidates for federal office to file financial reports.

David Denholm