It’s a good thing that International Association of Machinists Local S6 is insured. Otherwise, it might not be able to recover from losses created by Ryan Jones. Last week, Jones, former Local S6 secretary-treasurer, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine for embezzling more than $280,000 in funds over a four-and-a-half-year period from the union, which represents workers at the Bath Iron Works shipbuilding complex. The indictment follows separate investigations by the local and the U.S. Department of Labor. If convicted, Jones faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Bath Iron Works (BIW), located along the Kennebec River in Bath, Maine, is one of the nation’s largest shipbuilders. A subsidiary of General Dynamics since 1995, BIW is the fifth-largest employer in the state. As many of its 6,000 employees are unionized, that translates into a sizable pot of member dues. Ryan Jones saw an opportunity to steal funds, not just manage them. According to prosecutors, Jones, now 34, a resident of nearby Biddeford, used his position during May 2012-November 2016 to embezzle around $281,000. Sometime last year union officials sensed that funds were missing. They conducted a probe and concluded that Jones had stolen the money. The union contacted the Department of Labor and turned over relevant documents. The DOL launched an investigation and arrived at the same conclusion. It then referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. That’s what led to a grand jury indictment of last week. Union officials announced they have a filed a claim with their bonding company and that they are confident their union will be covered for full restitution.
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that Machinists Local S6 has been rocked by scandal. Back in 2008, as Union Corruption Update had reported, the local was placed under trusteeship by the international union amid charges of financial impropriety. The irony of the current scandal is that the defendant, Ryan Jones, sounded like the salt of the earth several months ago when he urged the Maine congressional delegation to oppose President Trump’s then-Labor Secretary nominee, Andrew Puzder. “Workers at the shipyard where I work are like most others in Maine,” Jones wrote. “We get up every day, we go to work and we do our best for our co-workers and our employer. We work hard. We just ask in return we get a fair shake: wages to provide for our family, a safe workplace, rights on the job and a chance to continue to improve our lives.” Unfortunately, his record does not appear to match his rhetoric.