Union members and the public deserve to have access to useful information concerning actual or likely conflicts of interest relating to union officials. That is why the Labor Department has revised the Form LM-30, Labor Organization Officer and Employee Report. You can read about the revisions in the Oct. 26 Federal Register, or at this Office of Labor-Management Standards Web page.
Whether you are an expert in this area or this is the first time you have heard of the Form LM-30, the questions and answers below highlight the importance of union official conflict-of-interest reporting and explain why the Department changed this form.
What is the Form LM-30? Form LM-30, the Labor Organization Officer and Employee Report, is intended to disclose any actual or likely conflict between the personal interests of union officers and employees and their obligations to the union and its members. These conflicts concern payments, interests and transactions involving: (1) the employers whose employees the union currently or actively seeks to represent; (2) vendors and service providers to these employers, the official’s union, or union’s trust; and (3) any other employers from whom a payment could create a conflict, as well as labor relations consultants to employers. These reports must be filed within ninety days of the close of the officer’s or employee’s fiscal year (usually December 31) and can be located at www.unionreports.gov.
How did the recent changes come about? In 2007, the Department published a final rule revising the Form LM-30. The 2007 rule increased the length of the form from 2 to 9 pages and added to the complexity of the Form LM-30 instructions. The 2007 rule also expanded the individuals required to report by including many union shop stewards. Finally, the types of transactions required to be reported was also expanded to include arms-length mortgage and credit card transactions with banks doing business with the union or its trusts. Not only did these changes present fundamental legal and policy problems, they required reporting for matters that presented no conflict of interest. Additionally, they created confusion regarding reporting requirements and intruded unnecessarily into legitimate labor-management relations.
What does this final rule change? It reduces recordkeeping and reporting paperwork by requiring union officers and employees to disclose payments and interests that involve actual or likely conflicts of interest, and by not requiring the reporting of transactions that create no or unlikely conflict, thus eliminating unnecessary intrusion into personal financial interests and labor-management relations. While returning the length of Form LM-30 to two pages, and simplifying the instructions, there are five substantive changes in the reporting requirements:
- Union shop stewards, as a general rule, are no longer required to file the form;
- Union leave and no docking payments (i.e., payments to union officials, who are also employees of the employer, for work done for the union on employer time) are no longer required to be reported;
- Bona fide financial transactions with credit institutions, including loans, are no longer required to be reported;
- Payments from employers in competition with the represented employer are reportable only if they represent an actual or likely conflict, and payments from unions (other than staff unions) and their trusts are not required to be reported; and
- International, national, and intermediate union officers must continue to report potential conflicts regarding locals and other subordinate unions (referred to as “top-down reporting”). While the 2007 rule excluded employees from the top-down reporting requirement, this final rule requires top-down reporting by higher-level employees who exercise “significant authority or influence” over a subordinate union.
When does the rule take effect? This rule will be effective Nov. 25, 2011. The changes made to the Form LM-30 reporting requirements will apply to reports required by union officials with fiscal years beginning on or after January 1, 2012.
John Lund, Director of the Office of Labor-Management Standards.