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Obama team reverses union transparency
Jim Coppess, associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO, discounted the criticism. He said the Labor Department’s recent moves did nothing to affect the transparency of union financial reports or the ability of federal regulators to monitor expenditures.
“All the department has done is propose the withdrawal of a rule hastily adopted on the very last day of the Bush administration and an examination of the actual costs and benefits of extensive reporting requirements imposed on unions in 2003 as the basis for possible future changes,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Times.
Ms. Greenberg’s new role at Labor has prompted Mr. Mix and his group to file a Freedom of Information Act request seeking details about whether she or any other union leaders played a role in the union’s financial disclosure policies.
Ms. Greenfield declined an interview request, although Labor Department spokeswoman Amy Louviere said she is “complying with the president’s ethical guidelines.”
Last year, Ms. Greenfield and AFL-CIO attorneys sued Labor, saying the new conflict of interest forms would force thousands of unpaid union shop stewards to report detailed information about their finances to the department each year.
“Treating individuals, such as shop stewards, who are not on their union’s payroll as ‘employees of a labor organization’ sweeps tens of thousands of rank and file union members” into the new reporting requirements, Ms. Greenfield and other union attorneys argued in a 51-page court filing.
Under the Bush administration, the department defended the rules in court. In court filings, government attorneys argued that the new rules were needed to “bring to light a wide variety of financial transactions and arrangements - whether proper or improper - that pose conflicts of interest arising from the relationships between unions, their officers and employees, employers and businesses.”
Ms. Greenfield’s job transfer is one of several appointments that suggest organized labor will hold much greater sway in the Obama administration than during the Bush years. Organized labor, which spent tens of millions of dollars helping to elect Barack Obama as president, has other likely allies, including:
• Patrick Gaspard, White House political affairs director, who worked at the Service Employees International Union.
• T. Michael Kerr, who served as assistant to the secretary-treasurer at SEIU in charge of finance and administration before he was picked to serve as assistant secretary for administration and management at Labor.
In her new job, Ms. Greenfield is in charge of the department’s executive secretariat office, which handles incoming correspondence to Ms. Solis, as well as memoranda and other documents from throughout the department.
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