In the motion picture world, news about a scandal can travel slowly – very slowly. Late in March, Paramount Pictures announced it had dismissed a longtime executive, Stephen Koppekin, two years earlier for embezzling an unspecified sum of funds from three union benefit plans to which the studio makes contributions. The departure of Koppekin, Paramount’s vice president of industrial relations and a trustee for the plans, originally was attributed to “retirement.” Yet the real explanation was his hand in the till, says a whistleblower ex-employee, Nichole Goluskin. Koppekin denies all accusations. Yet even if he is innocent, the problem of benefits theft, and cover-up, may be far more common to the film industry than realized. The U.S. Department of Labor, for one, wants some answers.
Stephen Koppekin became senior vice president of industrial relations for Paramount back in 1985, eventually rising to the rank of executive vice president of industrial … Read More ➡
On April 1, Henry Mayer, former financial secretary of National Association of Letter Carriers Local 852, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to one count of embezzlement of an unspecified sum from the Yakima-based union. Mayer had been indicted on March 25 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On March 30, Curtis Bullick, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3254, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to theft of property of an unspecified amount from the Bunker Hill, Ind.-based union. Bullick had been charged on March 13 following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Like clockwork, Al Sharpton, race-hustler extraordinaire, is positioning himself as an “adviser” to the family of Walter Scott, the black man fatally shot from behind on April 4 by a white police officer in North Charleston, S.C. after Scott resisted arrest. The shooting was captured on cell phone video by a nearby pedestrian. On Sunday, Rev. Sharpton spoke at a local church, praising officials for firing and prosecuting the cop, Michael Slager, for first-degree murder. He stated: “This is not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.” He added: “I didn’t come to start trouble. I come to help stop trouble.” Given his history of demagoguery, North Charleston officials should ignore him. For this case, like all his others, is about black and white. And Sharpton is trouble.
National Legal and Policy Center many times has dissected the Reverend Al Sharpton. For three decades, the New York-based … Read More ➡
On March 2, Kimberly Hesla, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 474, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Illinois to one year of probation, and was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and a special assessment of $25, for falsifying financial records of the Chicago-based union. She had pleaded guilty in November after being charged in October. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On March 3, Nathan McCallister, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 101, a Teamsters affiliate, was charged in the Summers County Court of West Virginia with one count of embezzlement in an amount of more than $1,000. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Sheron Gibson won the trust of his union – too much, in fact. On March 5, Gibson, a former firefighter for the City of Suffolk, Va. fire department, pleaded guilty in a state court to one count each of embezzlement and forgery in connection with his theft of about $109,000 from International Association of Firefighters Local 2801, where he was secretary-treasurer for a half-decade. He had been indicted last June on 12 counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery following a police investigation. Gibson has made full restitution.
Gibson, now 41, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., had served as secretary-treasurer of his union from 2008 until around early 2014. He was well-regarded among his peers. Though a volunteer, he was named Firefighter of the Year in 2009. With a background as a medic, he taught emergency medical courses to fire department personnel in Suffolk, a sprawling city of about … Read More ➡
On March 25, Choi Hawks, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to six months of home detention and five years of supervised probation for embezzling $10,744 in funds from the Chesapeake, Va.-based union. He also was ordered to attend counseling sessions. Hawks, who pleaded guilty last December after being charged in November, has paid full restitution in the sum of $11,196. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On March 18, Elmer Ray Booker, former financial secretary for International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1530, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas with embezzling over $42,000 in funds from the Houston union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Unions, even those representing government employees, are private organizations. Yet a new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) reveals that taxpayers in one state effectively are being forced to cover some of the costs of public-sector union official business. The study, authored by CEI labor policy analyst Trey Kovacs and titled, “A Remedy for Taxpayer Giveaway to Unions” (March 25, 2015), in the face of considerable resistance, dug up clear evidence that state and local government agencies in Missouri are subsidizing public-sector unions during working hours without loss of member pay. These “release time” clauses, whether or not built into collective bargaining agreements, are at odds with the public interest, deceptively costly, and almost certainly illegal.
It is little secret that public-sector unions have eclipsed their private-sector counterparts in terms of membership density and political influence. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 6.6 percent … Read More ➡