PODCAST: Fiduciary Duties & Responsibilities of Labor Union Officers

Published on: 02/15/2018 By: Gorfine, Schiller & Gardyn

Scott Rodgville, an Officer at GSG, recently spoke at the Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions’ Leadership Conference about the fiduciary duties and responsibilities of labor union officers.

Labor union officers face a wide variety of challenges. In order for officers to anticipate and overcome these unique challenges, they should follow three fundamental duties: duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty of obedience.

An officer’s duty of care ensures that board members are actively participating in the organization. They’re educated on the industry they serve, attend meetings regularly, provide strategic direction, and have the accountability to oversee management and salary employees on staff.

Through the duty of loyalty, executive board members must remind themselves that their first obligation is the success and operations of the labor union, not personal advancement.

Lastly, the duty of obedience, which raises the most concerns for accountants, relates to knowing the state and federal laws and regulations that apply to the organization and remaining compliant with the Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Officers must also comply with their international constitution and Local bylaws.

The following podcast describes how labor union officers can achieve these duties and ultimately:

  • Strengthen the board process
  • Enhance financial reporting capabilities
  • Leverage technologies
  • Anticipate and prepare for the threat landscape around them

The most important responsibility for labor union board members is advancing the mission of the organization. Often times, this gets lost, especially with fiduciary pressures.

Increasing scrutiny from government regulators such as the DOL and IRS, as well as international organizations, require unions to report anywhere from a complete copy of LM-2, LM-3, LM-4, to a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or even a full audit. However, there are technologies for every organization to implement to ease the burden surrounding these fiduciary responsibilities.

Not only can leveraging new technologies lessen the burdens of board members and financial reporting, but they can also alleviate major threats to the industry, which include cyberattacks, the economic environment, the political environment, and fraud or misappropriation of assets.

It’s also important for officers to take time and remember to not only focus on doing your day-to-day job, but getting younger members involved so your labor organization has a youthful foundation in which it can build. Getting those members involved will increase your organizing ability and your dues income, so it’ll give you greater resources to do what you need to in order to advance your members’ rights and your workers’ rights.

For more information about the fiduciary duties and responsibilities of labor union officers, contact us.

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