Report Released on Corrupt New York Boss

Detailed charges against Charles Hughes, a prominent N.Y. City union boss who was expelled on Jun 26., were released Sep. 18. The Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees has long refused to release the sealed report, but a union official upset about corruption at AFSCME Dist. Council 37 leaked it just recently. AFSCME accused the 30-year boss of embezzling $1.7 million union members. Hughes’ conduct was described as “a vigorous effort to plunder his union’s coffers.” Experts told the N.Y. Times that the findings document one of the worst cases of union embezzlement in years.  No criminal charges have been brought, but the Dist. Attorney’s office is investigating.

The panel harshly condemned Hughes for claiming 1,820 hours of overtime a year (35 hours a week) in every year from 1993-97 for which he was owed more than $300,000. His salary was $224,000, while most of his local’s members earned less than $15,000 a year. Calling the overtime an “improper and illegal use of union funds,” the panel said it “finds it inherently impossible that [Hughes] worked 35 hours of overtime every week of the year for five years.” It also found that $310,000 of the $329,000 of union credit card payments for Hughes’ account “were for obviously personal items, such as clothing and jewelry.” It also said Hughes wrongly received $512,000 in retroactive allowances for board meetings he attended from 1971-97. “This is outrageous. It shows the union has no way of holding local presidents accountable.” said Tom Dawes, a dissident leader. [N.Y. Times 9/19/98]