The Reach of the LMRDA

The LMRDA’s union financial transparency requirements apply to any private sector union that is “engaged in an industry affecting commerce.” This includes various types of labor groups “in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment.”[9]

A labor organization will be “deemed to be engaged in an industry affecting commerce” if it meets one of several triggers, such as being certified by the National Labor Relations Board or the National Mediation Board, acting as the representative of employees, or operating as a subordinate to a national labor organization.[10] This definition is “intended to provide comprehensive coverage of labor organizations engaged in any degree in the representation of employees or administration of collective bargaining agreements.”[11]

This generally means, with a few exceptions, that labor organizations are covered by the LMRDA if they have at least one private sector member or have a union in the hierarchy below them which has at least one private sector member.[*] Additionally, unions that are covered by the Civil Service Reform Act and the Foreign Service Act are subject to the disclosure requirements. This means that most unions representing federal employees are covered by the same disclosure requirements.

While some public sector unions in Michigan, such as the Michigan Education Association, have at least one private sector affiliate and must disclose financial information under the LMRDA, most public sector unions in Michigan do not. This means that public school employees, state and county workers and all the other unionized public employees in Michigan do not have access to detailed financial information about the union to which they pay dues.

[*] The relevant regulations previously provided for coverage of certain state-level organizations that did not have any private sector members or unions under them with private sector members, so long as they were subservient to a national organization that itself was covered. For instance, many of the unions representing teachers do not have any private sector members or local unions with private sector members and, under the current regulations, are not covered by the LMRDA’s disclosure requirements. The U.S. Department of Labor successfully litigated this issue in Alabama Education Association v. Chao, 539 F. Supp. 2d 378 (D.D.C. 2008), but subsequently the Obama administration rescinded the regulation on point.