Chicago-Area Local Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

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 ➡

Ex-Los Angeles City Councilman Ludlow Sentenced

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 ➡

Ex-Head of New Jersey Local, Benefit Fund Pleads Guilty

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 ➡

State Supreme Court Slaps $2.5 Million Fine on NYC Transport Workers Local

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 ➡

Unions Played Key Role in May Day Rallies for Illegal Immigrants

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 ➡

Southern California Ex-Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

Leslie Patricia Bell found out the price of stealing from a union treasury:  18 months in federal prison, three years probation, and $156,423 in restitution.  Bell, 39, had pleaded guilty last May to charges she embezzled funds from Local 1184 of the Laborers International Union of North America, which represents construction, groundskeeping and maintenance workers in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.  Bell had been responsible for paying union bills and depositing membership dues at the union’s local office in Riverside.  Her thefts began in May 2001 and lasted until her firing in July 2003.  Most of Bell’s haul took the form of membership dues paid in cash.  She also admitted forging the name of her then-husband, the union president, on two checks totaling $22,028.  She used the money to pay off credit card debt and federal taxes, according to her plea bargain.  Read More ➡

NYC Mass Transit Local Makes Unorthodox Plea to Avoid Fines

When Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) went on a three-day strike during last year’s Christmas shopping season, it did more than disrupt the lives of millions of New York City bus and subway commuters; it also broke the law.  And in doing so, it opened itself up to roughly $3 million in fines.  On Friday, April 7, lawyers for the local argued before Justice Theodore Jones of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn that the fines, if levied, would bankrupt the union.  Therefore, stated the defense, the fines should be waived.  Given that the strike, not officially backed by the national union, cost the city’s economy a lot more than $3 million, this would seem an odd argument.  But the strike has to be put in the context of a four-decade conflict between TWU Local 100 and state and local officials.Read More ➡

Three Contractors, Genovese Mobster Plead Guilty

plasterers-and-cement-masons-logoMany major construction projects in New York City face an unwritten law: If you want the work completed, pay the mob tax. Those who collect are the Mafia, and unions and contractors friendly to it. Those who pay are the general public and the workers who receive substandard wages and benefits. But tax relief may be on the way. On Monday, April 10, three mob-linked drywall contractors and a Genovese crime family soldier admitted in federal court in Manhattan to taking part in a scheme involving a pair of labor unions. 


Contractors James Delio, his brother Joseph Delio, and Fred Nisall copped mail fraud, embezzlement and extortion pleas, while Genovese made man Robert Carbone pleaded guilty to extorting officers of Local 530 of the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association. With the help of the Genoveses, the Delios and Nisall hired nonunion labor off the books, in the process Read More ➡

NYC Waste Haulers’ Strike a Legacy of Organized Crime

The leadership of Local 813 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sees injustice. But the union’s recent impasse instead could be seen as cosmic justice for years of mob control. Workers for a private contractor that handles trash collection for about 10,000 commercial customers in New York City and nearby Westchester County, N.Y., walked off their jobs on the morning of April 3. It was the first strike against a waste hauler in the city since December 1990, the culmination of months of heated, and failed, contract talks between Waste Management, Inc. and more than 120 union drivers and helpers. While residential trash pickups are not affected (the Sanitation Department handles this), the City is doing what it can to avert a calamity. The 1990 strike lasted only five days, long enough to create memories of garbage pileups, assaults, and gunfire. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that if the strike continues, Read More ➡

Union Uses Cesar Chavez Memory to Create Nonprofit Fiefdom

cesar-chavez“Si, se puede.” — “Yes, it can be done.” The phrase adorned any number of placards at dozens of rallies across the U.S. in the past several weeks to promote amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, especially those from Mexico. It’s also the longtime slogan of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), the union co-founded by Cesar Chavez in the mid-60s. Like its trademark black eagle logo, it symbolizes a call to action. Chavez, who died in 1993, was a driven man. Autocratic and at times even paranoid, he notwithstanding was an enormously gifted, tireless leader who succeeded in rallying nationwide support for the plight of California farm workers with strikes, boycotts and pickets. Deliverance came in 1975, when Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation guaranteeing farm workers collective-bargaining rights. But in the subsequent three decades, the union has shown an inability and a reluctance to act as a bargaining Read More ➡