Final Rule on Standards for Federal Workers’ Unions Published

Informing members of their rights is not a responsibility from which federal employees’ unions are exempt. That’s a principle on which the Labor Department stands anyway. On June 2, the department issued its final rule changes for Standards of Conduct under the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA). DOL officials believe that until now federal union members have lacked full protections available to private-sector union employees under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (i.e., Landrum-Griffin Act). Under the rule, which becomes effective July 3, federal sector unions must notify members of their rights by October 2, and at least every three years thereafter. They also must notify new members of those rights within 90 days of joining the union. 

Congress passed the Landrum-Griffin Act in 1959 in the wake of revelations of widespread corruption in the Teamsters and other private-sector unions. Sponsors intended the law to put more power in the Read More ➡

Former President of Los Angeles Union Pleads Not Guilty

Janett Humphries, the former Service Employees International Union official in Los Angeles accused of embezzlement and perjury, has pleaded not guilty.  She’s facing a pair of court visits on federal and local charges.  As president of SEIU Local 99 during 2002-03, Humphries allegedly stole more than $80,000 in union funds.  Well over $30,000 of that money went for the election campaign of former Los Angeles City Councilman Martin Ludlow under the listing of payroll and cell phone expenses.  She also embezzled union funds for travel expenses for children and friends.  Humphries is scheduled for trial in the federal case July 25; she’s due back to face local charges on August 16.  Ludlow already has pleaded guilty in federal court for his participation in the scheme, and in June received five years probation, and was ordered to serve 2,000 hours of community service and make Read More ➡

Rift Between Top ILA Officials Could Strengthen Feds’ Case

Bad blood always has run through the top echelons of the International Longshoremen’s Association. But the latest power struggle could wind up sinking its entire leadership. Last summer federal prosecutors filed a civil RICO suit in Brooklyn, N.Y. seeking to oust the longtime leadership of the union, which represents roughly 50,000 workers at three dozen ports along the Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes. Taking center stage are ILA President John Bowers, Sr., and Vice President Arthur Coffey. They, several other union officials, and certain persons with ties to the Genovese and Gambino crime families are facing a lifetime ban on participating in the affairs of the union or any of its pension, benefit and welfare funds. For some reason, Bowers hasn’t been making himself accessible to Coffey as of late. “He’s staying away from me like I’m poison,” Coffey said of Bowers. “No one takes my phone calls anymore…(I)’ve Read More ➡

Boilermakers Benefit Funds Administrator, Contractor Indicted for Thefts

The leaders of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers had a feeling the tab for renovation work at their Kansas City, Kansas funds office ran on the high side – way high. Four years earlier they’d sued the wife of the one of the people they’d suspected of embezzlement. Now the federal government wants to know why a rehab job cost around twice what it should have. Early this month Vernon Keith Reed and Richard Michael Taylor were charged in federal court on nine counts each of conspiracy and theft of pension and welfare funds. The IBB, with more than 100,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, is hoping it can recover the funds.

Reed, 62, from 1983 until his ouster in 2001, had served as executive administrator for the union’s three benefit funds. U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren said Reed conspired to allow Taylor to overcharge for the renovation work during Read More ➡

Whistleblowers at Houston Local Leads to Boss’s Indictment

It took four years, phone threats and sleepless nights, but Harry Bowers III and David McCormick are getting some justice.  The two members of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 988 in Houston have learned that the U.S. Attorney’s Office won an indictment against the former head of the union, Charles “Chuck” Crawley, on charges he’d rigged a union election, took a $20,000 kickback, and falsely recorded it in union records.  “We file what we feel are the most serious and the most readily provable offenses,” said Donald DeGabrielle Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.     

 

Back in 2002 Bowers and McCormick went to the FBI with a list of allegations.  The former business agents-organizers told federal investigators they had suspected Crawley and other local members of misappropriating union funds.  These allegations led to an investigation by the FBI, the Teamsters international Read More ➡

Ex-Treasurer of D.C. Local Sentenced, Forced to Repay

James O. Baxter II, a mastermind of the Washington Teachers Union scheme that ripped off at least $4.6 million from dues-paying members during 1995-2002, learned his fate in federal court on June 5.  And unlike his recently-sentenced partner in crime, former WTU office manager Gwendolyn Hemphill, he didn’t try to cop an insanity plea.  Baxter will have to serve 10 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised probation and 900 hours of community service.  He’ll also have to make more than $4.2 million in restitution.  Last August 31, Baxter was found guilty along with Hemphill on 23 separate counts, including embezzlement, conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering.      

 

In the meantime, it’s going to take a while for the current union leadership to climb out of the financial hole left by its predecessors.  Its fiscal year 2005 Department of Read More ➡

Executive Board Settles with Los Angeles Local Boss

On the matter of Ronnie Cunningham, Local 44 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees was a house divided.  He was the business agent for the 5,700-member North Hollywood, Calif.-based local, which represents prop makers, decorators, model builders and other employees in film and television set design.  But on March 1 of this year the board voted 16-0 to oust him.  Members alleged that for roughly a decade Cunningham had committed embezzlement, extortion and other offenses.  Yet he had his defenders.  In the face of a possible protracted legal battle, the board decided to cut its losses.

 

The Los Angeles Times reported that Local 44 had paid Cunningham a $170,000 settlement.  Not every union member is happy.  “A lot of us are very upset about this,” said Charlotte Laughon.  “The decision to pay him before members could make their own Read More ➡

Los Angeles Ex-Councilman, Union Leader Sentenced

The redemption of Martin Ludlow continues.  On June 5, the former member of the Los Angeles City Council and secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor was sentenced in U.S. District Court to five years probation and 2,000 hours of community service for diverting Service Employee International Union Local 99 funds to pay for his 2003 City Council run.  He also will have to make $36,400 in restitution to the union.  Former Local 99 President Janett Humphries still faces various charges.  (OLMS, 6/13/06).           

 

Former Bookkeeper in Philadelphia Sentenced for Theft

On May 30, Darnell Smith, formerly bookkeeper for SEIU Local 36, was sentenced in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to one to two years in prison, followed by five years probation, for embezzling from the union.  He also was ordered to pay more than $70,000 in restitution.Read More ➡

NLPC Releases Report on Union Corruption, Another on Politics

Full-length studies of union corruption have been rolling off the presses at a rapid pace this year.  First, Robert Fitch came out with Solidarity for Sale (Public Affairs).  Then James B. Jacobs weighed in with Mobsters, Unions, and Feds (NYU Press).  Now the institution that makes possible Union Corruption Update, the National Legal and Policy Center, has unleashed a monograph.  It’s called Union Corruption and the Law:  Toward a Unified Framework for Reform.  Don’t be put off by the word “law.”  In 62 densely-packed 8½ x 11 pages, the author, Phillip B. Wilson, vice president and general counsel of the Oklahoma-based Labor Relations Institute, Inc., makes clear the complexities of prosecuting illegal union behavior to laymen as well as to lawyers. 

 

Wilson leads off by summarizing four representative cases, breaking down behavior and motives in fine detail to show Read More ➡

Top Aide to Imprisoned Washington, D.C. Local Boss Sentenced

aft-logoGwendolyn Hemphill wasn’t eager about doing time in federal prison.  But it appears the former office manager of the Washington Teachers Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, is headed that way, now that her claim of mental illness has fallen by the wayside.  On May 22, Hemphill, 64, received an 11-year sentence for her role in a scheme that embezzled well over $4 million from union coffers, using much of that money to buy luxury goods.  She isn’t likely to keep what merchandise she has left, since she’s been ordered by the court to make restitution.  Though her attorney said she plans to appeal the sentence, such a move should prove yet another exercise in futility.

 

From 1995 until well into 2002, Hemphill, along with WTU President Barbara Bullock, Treasurer James O. Baxter II and several associates, had stolen and/or laundered at least $4.6 million from the Read More ➡

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