The corporate campaign has been an increasingly powerful weapon in organized labor’s arsenal of bargaining tactics. Rather than go on strike, a union targets a company whose practices it finds offensive, links up with civil rights, environmentalist and/or community groups, and launches a blitz that may include in addition to a strike, a boycott, pickets, leaflets, negative public relations, harassment of customers, lawsuits, blackmail, and complaints to regulatory agencies. Unions first applied this tactic during the 70s. Coca-Cola, Food Lion, Nike and Wal-Mart are but a few major corporations that have learned first-hand how rough things can get. Wackenhut Services Inc. (WSI) for the last two years has joined the club. The Service Employees International Union has been trying to publicly discredit the company until it accepts the union as the sole collective bargaining agent. The company, for its part, has a reputation to protect, and is letting people know … Read More ➡
By law, union elections must adhere to democratic process. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, or at least one of its major regional councils, appears not to have gotten the message. Now the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) wants to send a more forceful one. On May 8, the DOL asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to void an election held last July by the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters (CRC). The department asked a federal judge to order the CRC, which represents 47,000 workers in the Chicago area plus portions of Wisconsin and Iowa, to hold new nominations and elections for the following positions: president/executive secretary-treasurer; first vice president; second vice president; warden; conductor; three trustees; and three regional council representatives. DOL also wants new nominations and elections for all 42 local unions within the council.
The Labor Department charges the labor council … Read More ➡
Nobody said that tracking down $10 million or more in missing union funds would be easy. But someone out there is doing his job – enough to induce a round of guilty pleas in federal court. Last July, the Department of Justice indicted leaders of an ILA affiliate in Puerto Rico, UTM Local 1740, along with six businessmen and three companies on nearly two dozen counts of embezzlement, money-laundering and maintaining false records. The indictments had come in the wake of an extensive joint investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS). UTM Local 1740 President Jorge L. Aponte-Figueroa and another official, Enrique Sosa-Hernandez, were accused of embezzling nearly $2 million from the union, with Aponte-Figueroa allegedly underreporting another $1.5 million in dues collections. Moreover, the indictment charged Aponte-Figueroa, four other individuals, and Ramallo Brothers, Inc., with conspiring to convert union … Read More ➡
Certain locals within the Laborers International Union of North America over the years have produced plenty of mob-movie material – think of Local 210 in Buffalo. Elizabeth, New Jersey’s Local 394 has been playing in that league for a long time, given its close ties to that state’s DeCavalcante crime family. And unlike Local 210, this one is far from being cleaned up. At least that’s the opinion of the international union, itself no stranger to scandal, having dodged a massive RICO bullet in the mid-90s under then-President Arthur A. Coia, Jr. The May 14 edition of the Newark Star-Ledger reported that LIUNA has targeted the local, which represents some 470 construction workers, for a takeover. “So important to the DeCavalcante family is Local 394 that it has been variously described by DeCavalcante members as ‘the lifeblood of the family,’” LIUNA attorneys wrote in a brief that seeks trusteeship of … Read More ➡
On April 14, Deann Schnepple, ex-bookkeeper for LIUNA District Council of Oregon, Southern Idaho and Wyoming, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to an information count charging her with embezzling $44,758 in district funds. Sentencing has been set for June. (OLMS, 5/16/06).
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES (AFGE)
Pittsburgh Local Ex-President, Secretary Charged with Theft
On April 17, Christine Smith, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2028, was charged in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County Court, with 53 counts of embezzling $64,299 in union funds. Additionally, Lynda Holley, former secretary-treasurer of the local, was charged with eight counts of embezzling more than $4,400 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 5/16/06).
Ex-Bookkeeper of Las Vegas Local Indicted for Embezzlement
On April 19, Kay Joy Andrews, former bookkeeper for Local 1780 of … Read More ➡
Monday, May 1, 2006 was “A Day without Immigrants.” At least that was its official billing. Sponsors of marches and rallies in roughly two dozen cities across the nation had intended to make a Grand Statement: Illegal immigrants are indispensable to our economy. Without them, lawns would not be mowed; drywall would not be hung; floors would not be scrubbed; and restaurant meals would not be cooked or served. And so on May 1, as an act of solidarity, immigrants, legal and illegal alike, would not show up for work.
The boycott was the latest in a continuing series of events in opposition to pending federal legislation (H.R. 4437) that among other things would require employers to conduct a Social Security ID check of prospective employees and set aside funds to construct 700 miles of high-security fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Ethnic organizations, most of all Mexican, urged all immigrants … Read More ➡
New York State Supreme Court Justice Theodore Jones, Jr. sought to end the ongoing confrontation with Transport Workers Union Local 100. But unwittingly he may have taken the showdown with Local President Roger Toussaint to a new level. Last December, in the midst of Christmas shopping season, the 33,700 New York City bus and subway employees of Local 100 walked off the job. The strike was highly inconveniencing – and highly illegal. Since the late 60s, the state’s Taylor Law has barred employees from going on strike and has mandated a worker be docked two days’ pay for each day absent due to a strike. On April 17, Justice Jones fined the union $2.5 million, and ordered its automatic dues collection check-off privilege suspended. He also imposed fines of $125,000 and $187,000, respectively, on Local 726 (Staten Island) and Local 1056 (Queens) of a rival union, the Amalgamated Transit Union, … Read More ➡
Charles Wiener was supposed to be managing the health fund of Local 16 of the United Service Workers of America. It took several years before people realized that he’d been draining it. Wiener, 69, who had served as president of the Sussex County, N.J.-based local during December 1996-December 1999, pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday, April 21 to conspiring to embezzlement. He and two others had been indicted in February 2005 on charges of stealing $284,000 from the local. Charles W. Cart, 56, a former local president who also had been chairman of the county Democratic Party, faces trial this May; Marvin Raphael, 63, had pleaded guilty two days earlier, on April 19, to conspiracy to embezzle union funds.
Wiener, like Raphael, lives in Boca Raton, Fla. He admitted that he received up to $11,500 a month for phony consulting … Read More ➡
The education of Martin Ludlow continues. And it’s going to take place out of prison. On April 21, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David M. Horwitz sentenced Ludlow, a former Los Angeles City Councilman, to three years’ probation for conspiring to illegally divert union funds toward his 2003 election campaign. Ludlow also will have to pay restitution and costs in the amount of $45,000, remain out of all union leadership positions for at least 13 years, and not hold elected public office for four years. He also must pay $105,000 to the Los Angeles Ethics Commission for violating city campaign finance laws. In March he had pleaded guilty to a felony count of violating the city’s $500 limit on campaign contributions, plus two misdemeanor counts.
Until recently, Ludlow, 41, represented the apex of where Los Angeles labor and politics converged. He left his Council seat last year to assume control … Read More ➡
On March 31, Donald Hutchinson, former financial secretary for Local 763-C of the Chemical Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one year of supervision and three years probation for embezzling union funds. He was ordered to pay $103,248 in restitution to the local. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 4/29/06).
Kansas Financial Officer Sentenced, Another Pleads Guilty
On April 10, Vince L. Matthews, former business manager and financial secretary for Sheet Metal Workers Local 29, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to one count of embezzling $93,298.28 in union funds. In a related action, Kenneth Kruse, sole officer of Kruse Corporation, was sentenced to 12 months probation and fined $3,500 for aiding and abetting in making a false entry in the records of … Read More ➡