Government spends more to watch unions than employers do

The Economic Policy Institute does an interesting dissection of the 2008 Department of Labor budget for FY2009. Ross Eisenbray shows how we're spending 100 times more to watch unions than employers. He calls the budget "dramatically out of balance." It's hard to imagine this lop-sided politically driven government spending continuing under President Obama -- or even President McCain.

President Bush wants $58 million for the Office of Labor Management Standards. It protects union workers from financial funny business by unions, unfair union elections and unions that violate certain worker rights, like free speech. That works out to $2,500 per union. Unions definitely need regulation and oversight to keep them honest, just like any other organization. But $2,500 worth? It's hard to imagine any government -- federal, state or local -- blowing that much money per institution they regulate.

By contrast, EPI points out, Bush wants only $158 million for the Wage and Hour Division, which enforces child labor laws, overtime rules and the Family and Medical Leave Act, among other labor standards. They're looking out for 150 million workers versus the 13 million under the protection of the OLMS. But the government only wants to spend $26 per employer. Over the whole Bush presidency, Bush has increased funding on the union oversight office by 9%, but cut funding on employer oversight by 21%. If you're a worker, which one are you more worried about?

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