Steelworkers Local Secretary in Washington State Pleads Guilty

Jason Richard stole union funds for only nine months, but he made the most of that time. Now he’s likely to do some prison time. On December 14, Richard, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 12-990, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to one count of embezzling more than $40,000 in funds from the Wallula (Walla Walla County), Wash.-based union, which represents workers at the Wallula plant of The Packaging Corporation of America. The plea came two months after the filing of the charge, but before an indictment could be returned by a grand jury, and follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

According to prosecutors, Jason Richard used his position to embezzle $40,049 in union funds during January-October 2015, converting the money to his own personal use. A local audit subsequently discovered a financial shortfall and requested that … Read More ➡

‘Safe Spaces’: Workplace Radicalism with a Corporate Logo

U.S. Bank isn’t just about banking. And Greg Cunningham wants everyone to know that. Cunningham, vice president of diversity and inclusion at the Minneapolis-based institution, is busy traversing the nation, coaxing bank employees to confront their inner racism, sexism and other attitudes that get in the way of a harmonious workplace. “Transforming a culture of 67,000 people is never easy,” he says. “You have to make sure that everyone knows that there is something in this for them.”

Reprogramming of this sort is a trend. Corporations are creating on-premises ‘safe spaces’ for employees presumably at risk of harassment by managers and peers. Advocates tout the practice as fostering teamwork and ultimately profits. Don’t believe them. Under the guise of addressing a workplace morale crisis, such ‘spaces’ actually create rather than resolve employee divisiveness. It’s a variation on that national behavior modification program known as “diversity,” which has nothing to … Read More ➡

North Carolina SEIU Affiliate Has New Leader; Memories of $500K+ Theft Linger

The legacy of Dana Cope, former executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, no doubt still lingers, but it is fading into memory. For rank and file, that’s a good thing. On December 18, the 55,000-member state employee union, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), announced that Robert Broome, a veteran lobbyist, would be its next executive director, effective January 1. Broome takes over the post from Mitch Leonard, who had held the position since February 2015 to succeed Cope, who had diverted more than $500,000 from association coffers to his own use. Cope would plead guilty in State Superior Court that November, seven months after the release of an SEIU-directed audit. He then was sentenced to up to 82 months in prison.

The saga of Dana Cope is familiar in the world of organized labor: A union leader behaves as though he … Read More ➡

Pittsburgh-Area Steelworkers Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On December 15, Marianne Rodacy, former financial secretary for United Steelworkers Local 10-53-G, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Pennsylvania to embezzling $13,109 in funds from the Charleroi union. She had been indicted in September. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

President, Treasurer of Pennsylvania AFGE Local Sentenced

On December 12, Michael Evans, ex-president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1699, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation and 50 hours of community service for conspiracy to commit bank fraud against the Wilkes-Barre union. He also was ordered to pay $65,775 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. Evans had pleaded guilty in September after being charged in July. One day later, on December 13, former union treasurer William Uggiano was sentenced to two years of probation plus 50 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $7,350 in restitution and a $100 special assessment, for the same offense. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

Auto Workers President in Illinois Indicted for Embezzlement

On December 5, Anthony Edmunds, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2419, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois on one count of embezzling $19,482 in funds from the Danville-based union. This is a union with recurring leadership problems. This past September, another former Local 2419 president, Bob Buford, was sentenced to 21 months in prison for embezzling nearly $130,000 in funds following his guilty plea in November 2016. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Rep. Kihuen Accused of Sexual Harassment; Won’t Seek Reelection but Won’t Step Down

The rising tide of allegations of sexual harassment has claimed yet another member of Congress: Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada. Last Saturday, Congressman Kihuen announced that he will not seek reelection. Yet as a House Ethics Committee investigation proceeds, Democratic Party leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are calling for him to step down. This he is refusing to do.

Ruben Kihuen, 37, born in Guadalajara, is a first-term congressman representing the 4th District of Nevada, which covers the northern portion of the Las Vegas area and points well beyond. Along with Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., he is one of two foreign-born members of the House of Representatives who illegally arrived in this country (or violated the terms of a legitimate visa) and subsequently has been allowed to stay under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. This grant of amnesty, created in 2012 by an Obama … Read More ➡

Steelworkers Treasurer in North Dakota Sentenced for Records Fraud

On November 29, Douglas Morin, former treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 9520, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota to five years of probation, with a reduction to one year pending full payment of restitution, for falsifying records of the Fargo-based union to cover his theft. The court set restitution at $7,519, plus a $25 special assessment. Morin had pleaded guilty in August following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Bank Scam Artist Denied Work at Philadelphia AFSCME Local

On November 29, Marcus Nabried, an applicant for a job with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1199C in Philadelphia, was denied a reduction in the statute of limitations applying to his employment eligibility. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania had good reason for its action. Back in August 2011, Nabried, a former employee of Citizens Bank, had been convicted for his role in an elaborate “check runner” scheme through which employees at branches of several Philadelphia-area banks shared personal account holder information for the purpose of withdrawing customer funds for their own use. The latest action follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Congress Tries Again to Protect Workers from Union Violence

For decades, union members, often with the tacit approval of union bosses, have committed vandalism, extortion, assault and even murder during a labor dispute. Too often, they have gotten away with such behavior. At least one member of Congress is trying to right this situation. On November 16, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa (in photo), introduced the Freedom from Union Violence Act of 2017 (H.R. 4422) to amend an anti-racketeering statute interpreted by the Supreme Court over four decades ago as exempting unions from coverage. “Union violence is an ongoing problem, and it deserves no protection in federal law,” said King. This is hardly the first time that lawmakers have tried to close this legal loophole. And the string of disappointments has been due in no small measure to union opposition.

Unions do not necessarily play “fair” when seeking support from fellow employees or concessions from employers. If beating someone, … Read More ➡

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