Before U.S. West won a tentative agreement with the Communications Workers of America on Aug. 30, the 2-week strike was marred by union violence. On Aug. 21 U.S. District Judge Stephen L. Henriod issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting CWA from threatening and intimidating people entering or leaving U.S. West buildings. The order came after the company submitted a half dozen affidavits of threats and intimidation:
Asserting rising disgust with their union, nearly 100 KCAL-TV employees in L.A. have decided they no longer want to be represented by the Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers due in part to union corruption. Members petitioned the Nat’l Labor Relations Bd. Aug. 5 requesting Local 45 be removed. The petition was withdrawn, but they are still looking for alternatives. In a complaint letter to Local 45 bosses, members stated their motivation includes “the financial mismanagement of our money” and the strike fund “which we’ve paid into for years, is now non-existent, and no one from IBEW has satisfactorily answered our questions as to where the money has gone.” The corruption reference is to James E. Jackson (see: UCU 1.6 8/24/98), Local 45 business manger, who was recently indicted for allegedly embezzling over $63,000. [Daily Variety 8/25/98]
The Am. Fed’n of State, County & Municipal Employees held its 1998 national convention in Honolulu. Aug. 24-28, and Newsday ran an excellent article demonstrating its scandalous and costly behavior. The article focused only on AFSCME locals in N.Y., so the insights gained here can be multiplied at least 50 fold.
“Undeterred by subpoenas issued in a grand-jury investigation of union spending, hundreds of officials of the city's largest municipal union are in Hawaii...for a conference expected to cost its members $2 million to $3 million.” AFSCME District Council 37 sent nearly 800 union officials; all were staying at the Sheraton Waikiki for “$185 daily, payable by the union.” Airfare and meals will be reimbursed as well. “The ‘Aloha AFSCME’ agenda include[d] a speech...by Vice President Al Gore [and] sightseeing tours...”
In a clear defeat for union bosses, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Sep. 1 that Ohio may constitutionally ban public employers from administering automatic payroll deductions for political purposes. Union bosses challenged the 1995 campaign finance statute which included a ban on payroll "checkoffs." The decision reversed a lower court ruling that the ban violated the unions' free speech and free association rights under the First Amendment. Writing for the court, Judge Danny J. Boggs said that even the unions conceded that they had no affirmative right to wage checkoffs to support political causes. "The wage checkoff ban simply does not impinge in a constitutionally significant manner on any First Amendment rights," Boggs wrote. The "privilege” of checkoffs was not being denied to harm or condition constitutional rights, he explained. Moreover, Ohio had an interest in "removing partisan politics from places of public employment." [BNA 9/2/98]
Charles Blitz, a CA businessman and liberal campaign fundraiser, pled guilty Aug. 17 in U.S. District Court to lying to a court-appointed election monitor about the money-laundering schemes that ruined Teamsters President Ron Carey. Blitz is the 4th person to plead guilty. Blitz faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2. No one involved in the scandals has been sentenced to date. [Detroit News & Newsday 8/18/98]
According to court records, the scheme, that Blitz was a part, illegally raised $110,000 and $75,000 for "Teamsters for a Corruption Free Union" from the liberal Citizen Action and Project Vote, respectively. In return, the Teamsters "donated" $475,000 to Citizen Action and $175,000 to Project Vote. An additional $85,000 to the National Council of Senior Citizens garnered $42,500 for Carey. The total, $227,500, covered Carey's direct mail expenses.
Election Officer Michael G. Cherkasky found Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer and acting-President Tom Sever committed "very serious" violations of union rules by retaliating against union officials opposed to Sever's continuation in office. Sever stripped duties from presidential candidate Tom Leedham and two others. Cherkasky ordered Sever and an aide to halt retaliatory actions, but he stopped short of barring Sever from reelection. [Detroit News 8/18/98]
Laborers Int'l. Union of North America's NY political action committee chairman Samuel Fresina resigned Aug. 6 after W. Neil Eggleston, LIUNA's in-house appeals officer (and personal attorney for Bill Clinton and Labor Secretary Alexis Herman), upheld findings against Fresina for "ethical violations." Fresina, not directly accused of mob ties, had his PAC give money to Genovese crime family associate Salvatore Lanza. The case revived allegations of Fresina's ties to the Todaro crime family. The disciplinary action, brought by LIUNA's in-house prosecutor Robert D. Luskin, bans Fresina from union office for 5 years and orders him to repay the PAC $50,000. But, recent questions about Luskin's qualifications, motives and possible conflicts-of-interest raise concerns about his objectivity in this case. Fresina also resigned Aug. 13 as business manager of Albany's Local 190. Apparently, no criminal or civil legal action has been taken against him. [Albany Times-Union 8/7/98 & 8/14/98]
Hollywood's Int'l. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 45 allegedly had over $63,000 embezzled from it by business manager James E. Jackson. He was indicted Aug. 14 on 46 counts in U.S. District Court. According to court records, Jackson used IBEW's credit card for unauthorized non-union purposes such as Caribbean cruise tickets, airline and hotel expenditures for family and friends, jewelry and a $3,200 fur coat. IBEW also paid his unauthorized auto allowances, expenses and insurance and paid 4 years of his adult daughter's health insurance. [City News Service 8/14/98]
The now-former business manager/secretary-treasurer of the Int'l. Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 92 in Bloomington, CA, was indicted Aug. 12 by a federal grand jury for embezzling $25,000 from the union. Labor Department investigators estimate the total embezzlement closer to $52,000. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Manuel Lujan allegedly charged personal expenses, including airfare and hotels, on the union's credit cards and made unauthorized withdrawals from its bank account. [City News Service 8/12/98]
Boss Embezzled from UMW Joseph Volansky was sentenced Aug. 6 in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to 3 years probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine for embezzling from the United Mine Workers. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the UMW District 4 Secretary-Treasurer took an undisclosed amount by falsifying financial records and illegally using union credit cards. He was barred from union office for 13 years. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 8/7/98]
Teamsters Local 89 and the Kentucky Democratic Party are now seeking to block all indictments by the grand jury investigating the Teamsters' connection to the 1995 election of Gov. Paul Patton (D). Consideration of indictments began Aug. 17. The action is the latest in the investigation and legal battle into whether Patton's campaign circumvented spending caps with the help of the Teamsters and AFL-CIO. Also, the campaign work of Patton labor aide, Danny Ross, for the Teamsters between stints on the state payroll, is being probed. [Louisville Courier-Journal 08/19/98]