State commissioner's labor union income attracts more scrutiny

Last week, the Freedom Foundation revealed that Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) Commissioner Josh Tilsen has been collecting income from labor unions while serving in the Dayton Administration. BMS is the state agency charged with resolving labor disputes and overseeing union elections.

This week, Watchdog.org reports that Tilsen’s consulting activities appear to be more extensive than previously known: "Tilsen received $7,451 in 2013 from AFSCME Council 61 in Des Moines, Iowa, for arbitrating disputes at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, Delaware County and apparently another undisclosed case. Since management and labor typically split the bill for arbitration services, the other parties in the cases involving AFSCME also paid Tilsen at least $4,900, according to [public] records."

Meanwhile, Tilsen’s agency plans to administer and oversee a hugely controversial union election of personal care assistants next month. It is believed to be the biggest union election in state history.

Commissioner Tilsen did not respond to inquiries from Watchdog.org, but Governor Dayton’s office issued a statement: "Commissioners and other staff at BMS have been paid to serve as arbitrators in other states during the administrations of governors Quie, Perpich, Carlson, Ventura, Pawlenty and Dayton."

The Freedom Foundation has requested that Governor Dayton’s office provide names of Pawlenty administration commissioners who allegedly collected income from labor unions while serving the state. Governor Dayton’s office has not responded.

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