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Office of Labor-Management Standards
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Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)



U.S. Department of Labor

Employment Standards Administration
Office of Labor-Management Standards
Denver District Office
1999 Broadway, Suite 2435
Denver, CO 80202-5712
(720) 264-3232 Fax:(720) 264-3230

 

September 10, 2008

Mr. Mike Pickett, Treasurer
Postal Mail Handlers, LIUNA
Local Union 327
P. O. Box 30001
Billings, MT 59107-0001

LM File Number: 091-702
Case Number: ||||||||||

Dear Mr. Pickett:

This office has recently completed an audit of Postal Mail Handlers, LIUNA Local 327 under the Compliance Audit Program (CAP) to determine your organization’s compliance with the provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). As discussed during the exit interview with you on July 23, 2008, the following problems were disclosed during the CAP. The matters listed below are not an exhaustive list of all possible problem areas since the audit conducted was limited in scope.

Recordkeeping Violations

Title II of the LMRDA establishes certain reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Section 206 requires, among other things, that labor organizations maintain adequate records for at least five years by which each receipt and disbursement of funds, as well as all account balances, can be verified, explained, and clarified. As a general rule, labor organizations must maintain all records used or received in the course of union business.

For disbursements, this includes not only original bills, invoices, receipts, vouchers, and applicable resolutions, but also documentation showing the nature of the union business requiring the disbursement, the goods or services received, and the identity of the recipient(s) of the goods or services. In most instances, this documentation requirement can be satisfied with a sufficiently descriptive expense receipt or invoice. If an expense receipt is not sufficiently descriptive, a union officer or employee should write a note on it providing the additional information. For money it receives, the labor organization must keep at least one record showing the date, amount, purpose, and source of that money. The labor organization must also retain bank records for all accounts.

The audit of Local 327’s 2007 records revealed the following recordkeeping violations:

1. General Reimbursed and Credit Card Expenses

Local 327 did not retain adequate documentation for reimbursed expenses and credit card expenses incurred by officers totaling at least $860. For example, the union failed to maintain expense receipts for airline tickets, drinks, meals, and administrative expenses charged with the union credit card. As previously noted above, labor organizations must retain original receipts, bills, and vouchers for all disbursements. The president and treasurer (or corresponding principal officers) of your union, who are required to sign your union’s LM report, are responsible for properly maintaining union records.

2. Meal Expenses

Local 327 did not require officers and employees to submit itemized receipts for meal and drink expenses totaling at least $324. The union must maintain itemized receipts provided by restaurants to officers and employees. These itemized receipts are necessary to determine if such disbursements are for union business purposes and to sufficiently fulfill the recordkeeping requirement of LMRDA Section 206.

Local 327 records of meal expenses did not always include written explanations of union business conducted or the names and titles of the persons incurring the restaurant charges. For example, the union incurred a credit card charge of $200 at the Nerve Ana Culture Club and a charge of $124 at Bally’s in Las Vegas, Nevada. The expense receipts are missing the titles of persons who incurred the charges and there is no written explanation of the union business conducted. Union records of meal expenses must include written explanations of the union business conducted and the full names and titles of all persons who incurred the restaurant charges. Also, the records retained must identify the names of the restaurants where the officers or employees incurred meal expenses.

Based on your assurance that Local 327 will retain adequate documentation in the future, OLMS will take no further enforcement action at this time regarding the above violations.

Reporting Violations

The audit disclosed a violation of LMRDA Section 201(b), which requires labor organizations to file annual financial reports accurately disclosing their financial condition and operations. The Labor Organization Annual Report (Form LM-3) filed by Local 327 for fiscal year ending December 31, 2007, was deficient in the following areas:


1. Acquire/Dispose of Property

Item 13 - LM-3, (During the reporting period did your organization acquire or dispose of any assets in any manner other than by purchase or sale?) should have been answered, "Yes," because the union gave away T-shirts, and Sears and Albertson’s gift cards totaling more than $3,500 during the year. The union must identify the type and value of any property received or given away in the additional information section of the LM report along with the identity of the recipient(s) or donor(s) of such property. The union does not have to itemize every recipient of such giveaways by name. The union can describe the recipients by broad categories if appropriate such as “members” or “new retirees.” In addition, the union must report the cost, book value, and trade-in allowance for assets that it traded in.

2. Certificates of Deposit Reported As Investments

Local 327 improperly included the value of a certificate of deposit as an investment in Statement A (Assets and Liabilities). For LM reporting purposes, OLMS considers a certificate of deposit to be cash. The purchase or redemption of a certificate of deposit is a transfer of cash from one account to another and, therefore, the local should not report these transactions as receipts or disbursements.

I am not requiring that Local 327 file an amended LM report for 2007 to correct the deficient items, but Local 327 has agreed to properly report the deficient items on all future reports it files with OLMS.

Other Issues

1. Expense Policy

As I discussed during the exit interview with Local 327, the audit revealed that Local 327 does not have a clear policy regarding the types of expenses personnel may claim for reimbursement and the types of expenses that may be charged to union credit cards. OLMS recommends that unions adopt written guidelines concerning such matters.

2. Personal use of Credit Cards

The audit revealed that Local 327 permits one officer to use the union credit card to pay for personal expenses. Although the officer repaid Local 327 for the personal expenses charged, OLMS does not recommend policies that allow personnel to make personal purchases with union credit cards because this may lead to misuse of union funds.

I want to extend my personal appreciation to Postal Mail Handlers Local 327 for the cooperation and courtesy extended during this compliance audit. I strongly recommend that you make sure this letter and the compliance assistance materials provided to you are passed on to future officers. If we can provide any additional assistance, please do not hesitate to call.

Sincerely,

 

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Investigator

cc: Mr. Mark Addington, President