It is now official: Puerto Rico is broke. Last Wednesday, on May 3, the island territorial government, unable to meet its commitments on more than $70 billion in bonds and nearly $50 billion in employee pensions, declared bankruptcy. As far as municipal bond defaults go, it is the largest in U.S. history. Mismanagement and corruption have had more than a little to do with this meltdown. Congress paved the way for receivership last June when it passed legislation granting Puerto Rico protection from certain bond creditors. As the island slides toward oblivion and its residents leave in droves, the emergency control board created by the law has begun to oversee budget restructuring. The long-run challenge ought to be weaning the island from its federal fiscal lifeline and ultimately from the United States itself.
On April 7, Pascale McAtee, former president of International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 161, Transportation Division, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to one count of embezzling more than $82,000 in funds from the Everett (Snohomish County), Wash.-based union. He had been indicted last December. Sentencing is scheduled for July. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On April 10, Jeni May Hughes, former office manager for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 155, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in a one-count information with embezzling funds from the Little Rock union in an unspecified sum. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
It wasn’t quite the equivalent of entering the lion’s den. But Omarosa Manigault, a black official in the Trump administration, might not want to reenter. On April 27, Manigault (in photo), communications director for the White House Office of Public Liaison, gave a luncheon talk at the annual confab of Al Sharpton’s nonprofit, National Action Network (NAN). Putting on a game face in defending the initiatives of her boss, Donald Trump, she assured the gathering that she would “fight for you in the White House.” The crowd, unimpressed, groaned or gave muted applause throughout. And a subsequent speaker was outright hostile. That Manigault is a member of the Los Angeles NAN chapter did not win her points. The experience should serve notice to “conservatives” that even an informal partnership with the Reverend Al is a losing proposition.
April is a special month on the social calendar of Al Sharpton and … Read More ➡
The Teamster campaign to unionize Uber and Lyft in Seattle hasn’t gone well lately. But with City Hall in its corner, the union may achieve its goal of a labor monopoly anyway. On April 4, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary injunction barring the City of Seattle from enforcing a law authorizing a Teamster local to extract driver contact information. “Although there is no trade secret protections or confidentiality attached to this basic identifying information,” he wrote, “the Court finds that forcing the driver coordinators to disclose their most active and productive drivers is likely to cause competitive injury that cannot be repaired once the lists are released.” The action buys some extra time for a thorough review of the ordinance, the product of an unprecedented collusion of local government and labor officials.
Timing is everything. Two days ago, April 24, Ray C. Ventrone, former business manager of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in an information with one count of embezzlement of nearly $1.5 million in funds from the Pittsburgh union and five counts of income tax evasion. He plans to plead guilty. Back in April 2015, various news sources had revealed that Ventrone and possibly other local officers were under investigation for spending irregularities. The charges, the result of a joint FBI, IRS and Labor Department probe, follows revelations earlier this month that IBB officials at Kansas City, Kan. headquarters are continuing to spend recklessly despite similar evidence published five years earlier.
Boilermakers Local 154 represents about 2,000 welders, pipefitters and other construction workers in the Pittsburgh area. Like its parent union, as Union Corruption Update has described, dues-paying … Read More ➡
As if he didn’t have enough problems, David Sager has something new to worry about. On April 4, Sager, former president of United Steelworkers Local 5000, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on three counts of filing false tax returns. The charges grew out of income he allegedly had derived from diverting funds from the Cleveland-area union to his own personal use. He had been indicted last September on nine counts of embezzlement, 18 counts of mail fraud, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of making a false statement. All the charges follow a joint investigation by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
United Steelworkers Local 5000, based in Middleburg, Ohio, represents about 100 employees of various Great Lakes shipping companies. David Sager headed the union from 1999 until last April. There was a good reason … Read More ➡
On April 5, Andrew Thibodeau, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 1433, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut in a one-count information with embezzling more than $70,000 in funds from the Kensington-based union. He then pleaded guilty. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡
On March 29, Fenna Saylors, former treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 378, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to one count of embezzling $16,647 in funds from the Marion, Ind. union. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Labor unions rarely skimp on salary and benefits, especially for those at the top. Yet for sheer audacity, few are the equal of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. An investigative report published this past Saturday in the Kansas City Star, a follow-up to an expose of several years ago, is an apt reminder. The author of each, Judy Thomas, plumbed publicly-available financial records of the union, concluding that officials and support staff have continued to indulge expensive tastes at members’ expense. National Legal and Policy Center Chairman Ken Boehm, quoted in the new article, had this to say: “This is so over the top. It really tells you that there aren’t the kinds of checks and balances that are supposed to be there.” A number of local affiliates aren’t so happy about this either.
When it comes to compensation for union office jobs, nobody does it quite like the … Read More ➡