Running a buffalo farm in Maryland might not seem to have much in common with running one of the Chicago area’s largest unions. But William E. “Bill” Dugan did both. And it was the overlap of those worlds that explains his predicament. Dugan, the retired president and business manager of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, was sentenced on October 14 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to three years probation for demanding, and getting, donations of several custom-made livestock feeders for his farm from a firm that employed IUOE Local 150 workers, and for committing related offenses. He also was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine plus supervision costs. Dugan earlier had made $10,800 in combined restitution to the local and a related apprenticeship program which he chaired.
Dugan, now 77, a resident of Hancock, Maryland, for some two decades ran the Countryside, Ill.-based Local 150, which represents some 23,000 heavy equipment operators in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. He also was a member of the Chicago Transit Authority, plus Illinois tollway and gaming boards. Prosecutors had charged that in 2005 he demanded and accepted several concrete buffalo feeders valued at roughly $1,000 each from an Elgin, Ill. company whose workers belonged to the local. In addition, he allegedly accepted rental and delivery at the farm of a front-end loader worth $7,265 from another Local 150-affiliated company. The latter firm already had provided Dugan with a skid steer at several thousands of dollars below market price. Dugan also: accepted two 400-bushel truckloads of feed corn for each year during 2003-05 that, together with cash payments to the union, constituted “rent” that a farmer paid to cultivate union-owned land in Will County, Ill.; operated an apprenticeship program-owned front-end loader at his Maryland farm; and misused a semi-tractor and trailers belonging to the program. Dugan failed to disclose these benefits on Labor Department financial reporting forms.
Bill Dugan retired in June 2008 after the Chicago Sun-Times disclosed that the FBI and the Labor Department were probing his potentially illegal use of union resources for personal gain; his wife ailing, he likely would have stepped down anyway. Eventually, federal agents raided his farm, and prosecutors charged him with an information count. He pleaded guilty in March 2010. Nobody questions Dugan’s right to raise exotic farm animals. But it’s fair to say that construction equipment operators shouldn’t be subsidizing the expenses.