United States District Court for the District of Columbia
July 13, 2004.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR AND CONGRESS OF INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS, Plaintiff,
ELAINE L. CHAO, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: GLADYS KESSLER, District Judge
Plaintiff, American Federation of Labor and Congress of
Industrial Organizations ("AFL-CIO" or "Plaintiff"), has filed a
Motion for Clarification as to Application of Court's January 22,
2004 Order. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition, Reply,
and the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below,
Plaintiff's Motion is denied.
In 1959, Congress enacted the Labor-Management Reporting and
Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., ("LMRDA"), requiring
unions, among other things, to file annual reports with the
Secretary of Labor disclosing detailed information about their
financial transactions. Specifically, section 201(b) of the LMRDA
requires unions covered by the statute to file annually with the
Secretary of Labor a financial report which accurately discloses
their "financial condition and operations" for the preceding
fiscal year. 29 U.S.C. § 431(b). On October 9, 2003, the Department of Labor ("Department")
promulgated a Final Rule captioned "Labor Organization Annual
Financial Reports" ("Final Rule" or "Rule"). See 68 Fed. Reg.
58374 (Oct. 9, 2003). The Final Rule imposed several new
financial reporting and disclosure obligations on unions,
including requiring approximately 4,700 unions with annual
receipts of $250,000 or more to submit their financial report on
a "Form LM-2." Under the Rule, unions must file the Form LM-2
electronically. The Rule provided that it would become effective
January 1, 2004.
On November 26, 2003, the AFL-CIO filed the instant action
seeking a Preliminary Injunction postponing the effective date of
the Rule, as well as permanent relief setting aside the Rule and
enjoining its implementation. On December 31, 2003, the Court
granted Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction on the
grounds that the AFL-CIO was likely to prevail on the merits of
its claim that the January 1, 2004 effective date set out in the
Final Rule was arbitrary and capricious. See AFL-CIO v. Chao,
No. 03cv2464 (GK), December 31, 2003, Mem. Op.
On January 22, 2004, the Court issued a final order that
enjoined the Department from imposing the Final Rule "until July
1, 2004, or ninety days after [it] makes a fully tested version
of its electronic reporting software available to those unions
covered by the LMRDA, whichever is later." AFL-CIO v. Chao, No.
03cv2464 (GK), January 22, 2004, Order, at 2-3. On March 26,
2004, the Department released what it claimed was a "fully tested version"
of the software.
On May 19, 2004, almost eight weeks later, the AFL-CIO filed
the instant Motion for Clarification, claiming that the software
the Department had made available is not a "fully tested version"
of the relevant reporting software, and thus that the Final Rule
should not go into effect July 1, 2004. On June 14, 2004, the
Department filed its Opposition thereto, and on June 28, 2004,
Plaintiff filed its Reply.
Plaintiff's arguments in support of its Motion are unconvincing
for two reasons. First, unions that use a fiscal year beginning
July 1, 2004 had six months to develop the new accounting
systems, purchase the new computers and software, and train their
staff to comply with the new Rule. In its January 22, 2004
Memorandum Opinion, this Court expressly found that a six-month
transition period is sufficient "provided that the Department
makes available its electronic reporting software by March 31,
2004." AFL-CIO v. Chao, No. 03cv2464 (GK), January 22, 2004,
Mem. Op., at 53. The Department released such software on March
26, 2004. Second, the Court did not attempt to define what would
constitute "a fully tested version" of the Department's
electronic reporting software in its January 22, 2004 Memorandum
Opinion.*fn1 The Department has responded in detail to each of the arguments
the AFL-CIO has advanced in support of its Motion and, in light
of the Department's expertise in this area, it is appropriate to
give the DOL's explanations an "extreme degree of deference."
Marsh v. Oregon Natural Res. Council, 490 U.S. 360, 378 (1989).
Thus, for the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Motion for
Clarification as to Application of Court's January 22, 2004 Order
An Order will issue with this opinion.