International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 50 for the past year has been operating on tight leash imposed by union headquarters in Washington, D.C. Members now have a clearer idea why. On June 20, Scott and Nancy Alexander, respectively, former president and former office administrator of the Belleville, Ill.-based union, were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois for embezzlement and fraud related to the disappearance of thousands of dollars of union funds. The charges follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa had imposed a trusteeship on the local last July.
Scott Alexander was president of the 2,400-member Teamsters Local 50. His wife, Nancy, was office administrator of the union, located in Belleville, across the river from St. Louis, Mo. Their combined income was about $200,000 – until they, along with four other union officers, were replaced on orders from IBT headquarters. Apparently, there was good reason for the shakeup. President Hoffa announced that he had “received a series of credible reports from members and officers of Local 50 alleging improper use of Union resources and other violations” of union rules. He also stated that Local 50 “has not withheld sufficient taxes from the salaries of Scott or Nancy Alexander, thereby subjecting the Local to penalties from the Internal Revenue Service…the Local Union still owes penalties for its failure to withhold sufficient taxes.” In addition, noted Hoffa, Nancy Alexander overpaid herself $7,749 in vacation time and charged $6,655.76 with her union credit card for personal expenses. Neither Hoffa nor anyone else at the union could say if the Department of Labor had launched an investigation.
If an investigation wasn’t active at the time, it would happen soon enough. Last month it produced the indictments of Scott and Nancy Alexander. According to prosecutors, during January 2010-June 2016, the couple made unauthorized charges on their union credit card, took unauthorized vacations, manipulated their paycheck deductions and padded their auto travel allowances. When local officials questioned these expenditures, Scott Alexander fired the union lawyer on April 7, 2016 and the auditor on May 6, 2016. Hoffa responded two months later by imposing an emergency trusteeship. The real credit here, argues Teamsters for a Democratic Union, should go to former auditor Marc Archer, who had contacted the Labor Department. The motive behind the trusteeship, argues the internal reform group, was not to clean up corruption but to cover it up. The Hoffa-appointed trustee, Tony Barr, who runs Teamsters Local 916 in Springfield, Ill., is seeking a takeover of Local 50. Members of Local 50 have the right to vote on the proposed merger. One hopes they will exercise it.