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Bush Budget Spends 100 Times More to Regulate Unions

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Snapshot for June 4, 2008.

Bush Budget Spends 100 Times More to Regulate Unions

By Ross Eisenbrey

President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget request for the Department of Labor is dramatically out of balance. President Bush requested $58 million for Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS), which oversees 23,000 unions and union locals with 13 million members. He requested only $193 million for the Wage and Hour Division, which oversees 7.4 million employers and protects 150 million employees by enforcing a host of labor standards, including child labor laws, overtime rules, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, among others. In terms of dollars per regulated entity, the OLMS budget is $2,500 per union and union local. The Wage and Hour Division budget is only $26.08 per employer (see Chart). President Bush wants to spend almost 100 times more per union to make sure they comply with the law than to make sure employers comply with the law.

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Chart: Bush budget spends 100 times more to regulate unions

This enormous imbalance is especially difficult to defend because unions make data collection cheap and easy for the government by reporting their financial information directly to the OLMS, whereas employers do not report anything to the Wage and Hour Division, which has to visit each employer individually to enforce the laws it administers.

Over the whole Bush presidency, the contrast in funding is even more striking. Staff at OLMS has been increased 9%, from 290 positions to 317, while the Wage and Hour Division staff has been cut 21%, from 1,528 positions to 1,208, continuing a 30-year downsizing trend.

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