NLRB Sues Employer, Union at South Carolina Plant

Labor unions, in theory, are supposed to support higher pay for workers.  The idea of a union colluding with an employer to drive down wages doesn’t make sense.  Then again, forced card-check agreements have never made sense – at least for workers reluctant to join a union.  A case originating in South Carolina on the issue may have major implications for the rights of non-joining employees who may view a particular union as corrupt.

 

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Friday, August 5 announced it would prosecute the United Auto Workers for unlawfully blocking a scheduled wage increase, thereby coercing Freightliner, a Portland, Ore.-based maker of trucks and other commercial vehicles, to support the union during an organizing drive at the firm’s Gaffney, S.C. plant.  NLRB’s Regional Office 11, in Winston-Salem, N.C., had responded to a complaint brought forth in 2003 by attorneys with Read More ➡

Expensive Gift to New Jersey CWA Boss Raises Ethics Questions

The soap opera that is latter-day New Jersey politics has a new episode. This time the central characters are a U.S. Senator who wants to be the state’s next governor, a divorcee who represents the state’s largest collective-bargaining unit for state employees, and, from a distance, her ex-husband. Nobody has broken the law – so far as one knows. And it’s a private matter, involving no union funds. But many observers are worried that a major conflict of interest is in the making unless the candidate is more forthright with the facts.

There’s no disputing that the New Jersey’s governor’s race took a bizarre turn on August 5. The New York Times and the Newark Star-Ledger each revealed, through obtained court documents, that Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., over two and a half years ago had written a large check to a girlfriend to help with her divorce settlement. On the Read More ➡

Former Secretary-Treasurer for Indiana Local Sentenced

On July 18, Bernard Scheller, ex-secretary-treasurer for Communications Workers Local 14448, was sentenced in federal court to six months in a halfway house, to be followed by two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service, for embezzlement.  Scheller in May pleaded guilty to stealing $7,250 in union funds.  The plea and sentence resulted from an investigation by the OLMS Cincinnati District Office.  (OLMS, 8/6).

 

Ex-N.H. Business Manager Indicted for Embezzlement

A former business manager for a Laborers International Union of North America local in New Hampshire was indicted on charges of embezzling more than $150,000.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office on August 10 announced its prosecution of Thomas Brewster, 54, for stealing from the Portsmouth local during the period May 17, 2003 to December 27, 2004.  If convicted, Brewster faces a maximum prison term of five years and a fine of $10,000.Read More ➡

New Report Claims Union Is Mob-Free, but May Be a Cover-up

teamsters-logoIs it the truth or is it a whitewash?  That’s the question rank-and-file members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ought to be asking in the wake of the release of the public portion of a new report prepared for the union, concluding that the IBT is free of organized crime.  Union leadership, beginning with President James P. Hoffa, couldn’t be happier.  But there’s an unpleasant reality:  The report is in conflict with an earlier one released over a year ago.  The extent to which the Teamsters can sway skeptics will determine how soon, if at all, the federal government will lift its more than decade-and-a-half of surveillance.

 

The new report, released on July 14, was prepared under the supervision of Ed McDonald, a former federal prosecutor and now a partner with the Dechert law firm in New York City.  The Teamsters hired McDonald, who previously had led the Read More ➡

RICO Suit Could Mean Long-Term Federal Control Over Longshoremen

On the surface, life at International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) headquarters in Manhattan hasn’t changed all that much.  But the seeming normalcy doesn’t disguise the fact that the union’s longstanding alleged ties to two Mafia families are about to be exposed wide open.  On July 6, Justice Department lawyers filed a massive civil RICO lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.  Prosecutors, in their words, seek to end “the conspiracy among union officials, organized crime figures and others that has plagued some of the nation’s most important ports for decades.”  The lawsuit alleges that the Genovese and Gambino crime families control the docks at the ports of New York-New Jersey and Miami, and that the mobsters have used that influence to curry favor with the international union and put their people in charge of member benefit programs.

 

ILA President John Bowers, his top aides, and union attorney Howard W. Read More ➡

AFL-CIO Split May Have Little Effect on Corruption

People saw it coming a mile away.  The Teamsters’ James P. Hoffa and the Service Employees’ Andrew Stern each made good on their threats to take their unions out of the AFL-CIO at the start of that labor federation’s 50th anniversary convention in Chicago.  In the process, they and several other dissenting unions have left observers wondering if the fortunes of organized labor have been irrevocably damaged.  While that’s a possibility, the most likely long-run outcome probably will be the opposite.  Indeed, unions may emerge with more members, revenues and political clout.  As for battling corruption, they don’t seem to view this as a high-priority item.  But this requires some context.   And the context is the convention.      

 

Populism ran deep, proud and far to the left inside the large air-conditioned convention hall along Chicago’s Navy Pier Monday through Thursday, July 25-28.  There was no mistaking the left Read More ➡

Genovese Boss, 19 Others Arrested for Various Crimes

Age is no obstacle when it comes to running a business, especially when it’s a Genovese crime family business.  Apparently it’s no obstacle to getting arrested either.  Matty “the Horse” Ianniello, a longtime Genovese capo, knows the lesson as well as anyone.  On Thursday, July 28, federal agents and local police arrested Ianniello and 19 other alleged members and associates on extortion, loansharking and other charges.  Ianniello, 85, who at one point allegedly served as acting family boss following the conviction of Vincent “the Chin” Gigante (see photo), was still active.  “Don’t let age fool you,” said FBI Agent Matt Heron.  “He’s still an influential player in the Genovese family.”

 

The family has been playing hard these past several years.  The federal indictment leading to the arrest alleges that Genovese members, led by Ianniello, infiltrated the Queens, N.Y.-based Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents bus drivers.  Read More ➡

Former Benefits Fund Manager Sentenced for Embezzlement

Robert Cataldo couldn’t stay out of prison forever. Back in August 2003, the ex-finance director for the health and retirements funds for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, had pleaded guilty in New York for embezzling $1.36 million from the funds. Nearly two years later, on Thursday, July 21, he got his due from U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald: a 37-month prison sentence, plus mandatory restitution and two years’ probation upon release. Cataldo was responsible for financial and accounting processes. After his arrest, fund trustees announced they had commissioned a study by independent auditors to identify and implement procedures to prevent future thefts of this sort. (Daily Variety, 7/22).   Read More ➡

Homeland Security Employees Official Charged with Theft

Diane Sampson thought she could put one over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  It was a bad mistake.  On July 19, Ms. Sampson, a native of Guyana, was suspended without pay after being charged with the theft of more than $23,000 from her union, the Federal Protection Service Labor Committee, an affiliate of the Fraternal Order of Police.  The group represents employees of the Federal Protective Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

 

Sampson’s job was to prepare union financial reports, documenting all expenses and income.  But federal authorities allege that she did other things not specified in her job title – like writing union checks and making ATM union credit-card withdrawals to finance trips to Guyana, shopping excursions, and appointments at the beauty salon.  Court documents also accuse her of lying on documents to cover up Read More ➡

Ex-California Treasurer Accused of Embezzlement

On June 30, William Harry Good, Jr., former financial secretary-treasurer of Machinists Local Lodge 821, was charged in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, with embezzling $1,500 in union funds.  But in this case, a little smoke has revealed a lot of fire.  The sum represents just one of 229 union checks, collectively worth more than $192,000, that Good allegedly misappropriated.  The indictment comes after a joint investigation by the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) and its Office of Inspector General.  (OLMS, 7/21).       

 


Nebraska Ex-Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

On July 7, in U.S. District Court for Nebraska, Terry L. Gloe, former treasurer for Local 11 of the American Postal Workers Union, was sentenced to six months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release, with a special condition of six months of home confinement.  He also Read More ➡

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