Unions forced to put workers first

One of the unsung heroes of this administration has been Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who has used her discretionary power to strengthen reporting requirements for unions, bringing more transparency and accountability to what the Big Labor bosses do with the dues their members pay. (You can view them at UnionReports.gov.)

In an indication that Chao and Co. aren’t taking their foot off the gas, the Department of Labor yesterday issued new guidance under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that would make it harder for unions to engage in what is known as “shareholder activism.”

Currently, unions often invest retirement dollars in shares of corporate stock not to maximize return for workers, but to force management to address union concerns. The Labor Department says that is no longer allowable. According to a DOL press release:

The guidance reiterates that plan fiduciaries, who are charged by law with the responsibility for operating employee benefit plans on behalf of plan participants, may never increase expenses, sacrifice investment returns, or reduce the security of plan benefits in order to promote legislative, regulatory or public policy goals that have no connection to the payment of benefits or plan administrative expenses.

It speaks volumes about the modern labor movement that the Department of Labor has to issue guidance to unions telling them to put their workers first.