Colorado Teachers Union Treasurer Arrested for Theft

Kristen Prevedel thought her secret was safe with a friend.  It’s a good thing for members of the Falcon Teachers Education Association that it wasn’t.  Prevedel, a language-arts teacher at Skyview Middle School in Falcon, a suburb of Colorado Springs, and also the association’s treasurer until this July, went to dinner with a fellow teacher, a next-door neighbor at that.  At the restaurant, she told her friend that she’d written about $50,000 worth of union checks to herself at the behest of then-union President Tom Wilke, who said he was changing banks; Wilke told her to keep the cash until a new account was set up.  Shortly thereafter, her friend informed police of the conversation.  That led to the arrest of Prevedel on August 24 on suspicion of felony theft of $90,750, a sum representing 48 checks written out during 2005 and this year.

Prevedel, alleges the arrest affidavit, also Read More ➡

Charges Against Oregon Teachers Union Treasurer Dropped; Could be Restored

Missing money doesn’t have to have a guilty culprit. At least that’s what Cheryl Ann Cooper, an accounting teacher and former treasurer of the Reynolds Education Association, is hoping. Cooper, 54, on September 5 turned herself into local authorities in Gresham, a suburb of Portland, and promptly was booked on one count of aggravated first-degree theft. At her arraignment, she was charged with embezzling $150,000 in union dues. Apparently, prosecutors thought the charge might not stick because the very next day they dropped it. They cautioned, however, that she could be recharged within two years. Cooper, who had served as the local treasurer since July 1999, resigned her union post this past April. This August, she took leave of her teaching position, which since has been filled. 

Cooper’s alleged thefts took place over more than a half-decade. This spring, the Reynolds Education Association noticed discrepancies in its records. Officials requested Read More ➡

Office Manager for Duluth Local Indicted for Embezzlement

Kathryn L. Stark had an 11-year run stealing funds from Local 31 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.  But the former office manager of the Duluth, Minn.-based local ran out of luck sometime after that.  A federal grand jury in Minneapolis on September 11 indicted Stark, 49, a resident of Superior, Wisconsin, on charges that during 1993-2004 she stole more than $50,000 from the union.  Two other persons also were indicted in the case, the result of an investigation by the Labor Department.  Local 31 represents utility workers in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.  (Duluth News-Tribune, 9/12/06).          


Cleveland Ex-Local Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On August 8, Boni L. Segura, formerly secretary of Local 18 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, based in Cleveland, pled guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to one Read More ➡

Judge Sides with Dissenting Cintas Workers in Pennsylvania

Unions, like any kind of organization, want to increase their membership.  And they have every right to do so.  But that right at some point has to yield to the right to privacy of those who might not want to join.  That was the view of a federal court in Pennsylvania in rendering a decision in favor of dissenting employees of the nation’s largest uniform and laundry service.  On August 30, U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell ruled that representatives of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, or UNITE, violated federal privacy laws by copying down license-plate and other information from motor vehicles parked on the lot of the Cintas Corp. plant in Emmaus, Pa.  The union’s intent was to track down the residences of vehicle owners in the hopes of organizing them.  While the ruling wasn’t a complete victory – the court absolved the union’s international president, Bruce Read More ➡

Candidate for D.C. Council Chairman Taken to the Woodshed

Union leaders often have a blind eye when it comes to corruption in their own ranks, but they are quick to punish the smallest faux pas, spoken or written, when it comes to perceived acts of disloyalty from political allies.  Just ask Washington, D.C. Council Member Vincent C. Gray.  Gray, a Democrat, a first-term representative of the city’s Ward 7, is running for council chairman.  Not long ago he had begun passing out 15,000 campaign leaflets at Metrorail stops and meet-and-greet encounters.  The leaflets, which carried a page of endorsements from ward Democrats, business organizations and unions, seemed innocuous enough.  The problem was what they didn’t contain:  a union logo.  That’s because the leaflets weren’t union-printed.  That, in the world of organized labor, is a political no-no.  


Union spokesmen were quick to demand an apology from Gray.  Joslyn Read More ➡

Mexico in Turmoil After Strike, Riot, and Charges of Corruption

Mexico never has been a paragon of political stability. That country’s civil war (1910-20) was at least as brutal as our own, and resulted in the execution or assassination of five consecutive presidents. The era of one-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that began in 1929 and ended with the election of President Vicente Fox in 2000 provided only the illusion of stability. Its main legacy is a culture of corruption that has become next to impossible to erase. The near future may find things getting even worse. In fact, the aftermath of the recent and still-contested presidential election might even produce another civil war. The situation has been exacerbated by several factors: accusations of corruption at the nation’s steelworkers and miners union; a mine explosion in February that killed dozens of workers; and the shooting deaths of two workers at a steel mill by riot police. The Read More ➡

Virginia Ex-Local Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On August 16, Preston Nelson, formerly treasurer for National Postal Mail Handlers Local 305, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $13,547.26.  The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  (OLMS, 8/29/06).


Labor Department Sues California Local; Wants New Election

On July 31, the Department of Labor filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, requesting that the union nullify the results of its November 11, 2005 election for the offices of executive board member and trustee.  The DOL also is asking for a new election to be held.  The complaint alleges that the union imposed a candidacy requirement that was unreasonable and not contained in either its by-laws or Read More ➡

Twenty Indicted in Probe of Boston Terminal Longshoremen Payroll Scam

international longshoremen_s association logoBoston Longshoremen don’t like people poking around into the way they do business.  It’s a world of tightly-knit Irish ethnic families where work on the docks is passed on from one generation to the next.  And if breaking the law is what it takes to make a good living, some of these people will do just that, especially if it involves group cooperation – i.e., a racket.  Cracking this kind of racket is far from easy.  But it appears that the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, with some outside help, has done just that.


On August 9, Attorney General Tom Reilly announced a combined 118 indictments against 20 individuals, almost all of whom are or have been affiliated with locals of the International Longshoremen’s Association.  He was flanked by Massachusetts Port Authority (“Massport”) Executive Director Thomas Kinton, Jr., U.S. Labor Department official Marjorie Franzman, and members of the Massachusetts Department of Read More ➡

Testimony Suggests San Jose Mayor Pressured Contractor into Hiring Teamsters

San Jose, California Mayor Ron Gonzales has vowed to dig in and fight charges that he’s a crook. But the content of just-released grand jury transcripts suggests he might have little ground upon which to dig – or so say Santa Clara County prosecutors. On August 11, transcripts from testimony given back in March by the head of a garbage contractor, Norcal Waste Systems, indicated that the mayor pressured the firm to ensure that it would hire Teamsters and not Longshoremen. Norcal CEO Michael Sangiacomo stated that Gonzales would “do his best to make sure that Norcal was reimbursed” for having to pay higher Teamster wages; a pending agreement with a Longshoremen’s local would have enabled the City to pay lower wages. The contract was set to begin on July 1, 2002. While most of the 2,400 pages contained few surprises, some appeared to undermine the mayor’s contention that Read More ➡

Boston Local Board Elects New President, Questions Remain

The outcome might not have been too surprising, but the speed at which it happened was. On August 11, in an unexpected move, the executive board of Local 25 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, easily during the 90s and the first few years of this decade one of the IBT’s most corrupt and thuggish, elected former business agent Sean O’Brien as its new president. O’Brien replaces Ritchie Reardon as head of the union, which had been plagued by scandals that resulted in Reardon’s predecessor, George Cashman, going to federal prison in 2003 for nearly three years for extortion and pension fraud. As O’Brien’s father, William O’Brien, was a close ally of Cashman, the old regime appears well and alive, even if the roster has undergone some changes.

Reardon, whose term in office was scheduled to expire at the end of this year, witnessed his power slipping last year, when Read More ➡