IB-2009-B (March 2009)
Author: Ben DeGrow
As the influence of organized labor grows in Colorado’s public sector, so does the need for greater accountability and transparency. Through stricter enforcement of a federal law designed to ferret out union corruption, the U.S. Department of Labor in recent years has set the highest standard for disclosure of union finances. This enforcement has yielded real but limited gains in bringing restitution to members and fee-payers wronged by the malfeasance of certain union officials.
The examples of 13 states that require unions to make available basic financial information to requesting members and fee-payers offer a good starting place for state reform, but are still inadequate. Colorado rather ought to model its practices after federal law, providing for the online public availability of useful, thorough, and transparent financial information from labor organizations. Adopting this approach would promote healthy accountability to Colorado government workers and citizens at large.