Laws Protecting Union Members and Their Pension and Welfare Benefits Should Be Better Enforced

HRD-78-154: Published: Sep 28, 1978. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1978.

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The Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) imposes federal standards and reporting and disclosure requirements to help eliminate or prevent improper and corrupt practices by labor unions and their officers and representatives. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates the private pension and welfare plan systems for providing working Americans with retirement income and welfare benefits.

Both LMRDA and ERISA clearly delineate the respective areas of investigative responsibility and jurisdiction for the Departments of Labor and Justice, and coordination between the Departments is generally adequate. However, the Labor Management Services Administration (LMSA) has limited its enforcement of LMRDA and ERISA. Most of its enforcement effort under LMRDA is directed toward investigating election complaints and supervising election reruns. For ERISA, LMSA directed most of its efforts to activities other than enforcement and compliance of either the civil or criminal provisions of the act. LMSA national office computerized report processing and desk audit systems are principally directed to achieving voluntary compliance with reporting and disclosure provisions of both laws and not to verifying the accuracy of the reported data. According to officials, insufficient investigative staff is a primary cause of the lack of enforcement of the two laws and of the limited field audit activity.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should determine the additional resources needed to effectively enforce the criminal and civil provisions of both laws and provide this information to Congress. The Secretary should direct LMSA to: (1) strengthen the area office audit activity; (2) establish procedures to notify the Department of Justice of investigative activities to avoid duplication; (3) establish procedures to require direct, continuous, and day-to-day coordination between internal investigative staffs at area offices; (4) improve the timeliness of area offices' investigation of cases with potential criminal violations; and (5) review the training of area office field staff to ensure that auditors and compliance officers receive the training needed to effectively carry out their duties.

    Agency Affected:


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