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Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)


U.S. Department of Labor
Employment Standards Administration
Office of Labor-Management Standards
Philadelphia District Office
170 S. Independence Mall West
Room 760
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215)861-4818 Fax: (215)861-4819

January 9, 2009

Mr. Russell Naylor, Secretary-Treasurer
Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO
Branch 920
20 South School Lane
Souderton PA, 18904

LM File Number 080-115
Case Number | | | | | | | |

Dear Mr. Naylor:

This office has recently completed an audit of Letter Carriers Branch 920 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 January 8, 2009, 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 Violation

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 Branch 920's 2007 records revealed the following recordkeeping violation:

Meal Expenses

Branch 920 did not require officers and employees to submit itemized receipts for meal expenses totaling at least $172.41. 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.

Branch 920 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, two meal receipts from an unknown vendor due to the condition of the receipts were missing the names of who attended the lunch meeting and the purpose of these meetings. 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 Branch 920 will retain adequate documentation in the future, OLMS will take no further enforcement action at this time regarding the above violation.

Reporting Violation

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 LM-3 filed by Branch 920 for fiscal year ending December 31, 2007 was deficient in the following areas:

Disbursements to Officers

Branch 920 did not include some reimbursements to officers totaling at least $172.41 in the amounts reported Item 24 (All Officers and Disbursements to Officers). It appears the union erroneously reported these payments in Item 54.

The union must report most direct disbursements to Branch 920 officers and some indirect disbursements made on behalf of its officers in Item 24. A “direct disbursement” to an officer is a payment made to an officer in the form of cash, property, goods, services, or other things of value. See the instructions for Item 24 for a discussion of certain direct disbursements to officers that do not have to be reported in Item 24. An “indirect disbursement” to an officer is a payment to another party (including a credit card company) for cash, property, goods, services, or other things of value received by or on behalf of an officer. However, indirect disbursements for temporary lodging (such as a union check issued to a hotel) or for transportation by a public carrier (such as an airline) for an officer traveling on union business should be reported in Item 48 (Office and Administrative Expense).

I am not requiring that Branch 920 file an amended LM report for 2007 to correct the deficient items, but Branch 920 has agreed to properly report the deficient items on all future reports it files with OLMS.

Other Violation

The audit disclosed the following other violation:

Inadequate Bonding

The audit revealed a violation of LMRDA Section 502 (Bonding), which requires that union officers and employees be bonded for no less than 10 percent of the total funds those individuals or their predecessors handled during the preceding fiscal year.

The audit revealed that Branch 920 officers and employees were not bonded for the minimum amount required at the time of the audit. However, the union obtained adequate bonding coverage and provided evidence of this to OLMS during the audit. As a result, OLMS will take no further enforcement action regarding this issue.

Other Issue

Signing Blank Checks

During the audit, you advised that you sign blank checks. Your union's bylaws require that all checks be signed by the president and treasurer. The two signature requirement is an effective internal control of union funds. Its purpose is to attest to the authenticity of a completed document already signed. However, signing a blank check in advance does not attest to the authenticity of a completed check, and negates the purpose of the two signature requirement. OLMS recommends that Branch 920 review these procedures to improve internal control of union funds.

I want to extend my personal appreciation to Letter Carriers Branch 920 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,

Investigator

cc: Kevin Gardner, President