- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

For years, federal law has required any large labor union to file annual forms (LM-2s) with the Department of Labor reporting receipts and expenditures "in such detail as may be necessary accurately to disclose its financial condition and operations for its preceding fiscal year." Now, it is undoubtedly true that countless students taught by members of the National Education Association (NEA) would have difficulty understanding the relationship between the key words i.e., "accurately" and "operations" in that legal requirement. However, surely the NEA, which is the nation's largest labor union, has the wherewithal to hire an attorney capable of deciphering the meaning of those key words and adhering to federal law. Nevertheless, as the Landmark Legal Foundation has irrefutably demonstrated in a complaint filed this week with Labor, the NEA has repeatedly evaded its legal reporting requirements.

At least since 1994, the NEA has failed to accurately disclose to Labor the costs of the union's pervasive political operations, for which the NEA annually spends millions of tax-exempt dollars it receives in the form of mandatory dues from its membership. Obviously, in failing to report this information, the NEA also fails to report it to its members, thus grossly violating both the spirit and the letter of the law.

For years, the NEA had been considered a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party. Recently, however, given the veto power the NEA wields over the party's platform and the union's vast, nationwide, dues-financed army of 1,800 political operatives formally known as "UniServ directors," the Democratic Party has often acted as a wholly owned subsidiary of the NEA. This is especially so regarding the politically powerful union's unabashedly liberal social and economic agenda. But don't take our word for it.

NEA General Counsel Robert Chanin, obviously responding to several equally eye-popping complaints Landmark had earlier filed with the IRS and the Federal Election Commission, bragged to other NEA bosses about how successfully the union exercised its raw political power. "Someone is really after us," Mr. Chanin charged in a recent speech. The NEA and its affiliates "have been singled out because of our political power and effectiveness at all levels, because we have the ability to help implement the type of liberal social and economic agenda that [they] find unacceptable." In fact, what is truly unacceptable is the NEA's repeated failure to reveal the financial costs of its "political power and effectiveness at all levels," as it is required to do so by law.

Now, this page has spent the past 20 years in active opposition to the "liberal social and economic agenda" advocated by the NEA. But we don't begrudge the NEA's right to pursue that agenda, as long as it does so by complying with federal laws and other legal requirements. Any fair-minded person who has read Landmark's persuasively argued complaint (www.landmarklegal.org) will conclude that the NEA has utterly failed to meet the disputed compliance requirements. Now we are about to see how fair-minded the Department of Labor is.

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