Carl Horowitz's blog

UAW Wears Out Welcome at Alabama Mercedes Plant

Mercedes TuscaloosaWhen it comes to organizing German-owned facilities in the U.S., the United Auto Workers can't be accused of shyness - or it would seem, transparency. For the past several months, the union, led since early June by its new president, Dennis Williams, has been stepping up its campaign to represent Mercedes-Benz workers in central Alabama. The UAW, still smarting from its election defeat this February at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., is aware that victory is unlikely. To overcome disadvantage, organizers apparently have been resorting to misinformation. They've been telling workers that federal law bars them from discussing pay and working conditions unless they belong to a union.

Auto Workers Local Secretary in Indiana Charged

Auto Workers logoOn September 17, Marcia Shull, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 661, was charged in an information count in Hancock County, Indiana Circuit Court with theft and forgery of unspecified sums from the Greenfield, Ind.-based union. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Founder of Washington, D.C. Security Unions Sentenced for Thefts

Security guardOn September 17, J.C. Stamps, founder and former executive director of the National Union of Protective Services Associations and the National Union of Law Enforcement Associations, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to nine months in prison, three years of supervised probation, and 100 hours of community service, for embezzling nearly $200,000 from benefit plans of the Washington, D.C.-based unions. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $192,091. Stamps, a Washington, D.C. cop prior to founding the unions, had pleaded guilty in June following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration, and Office of Inspector General.

New Orleans-Area Carpenters Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

Carpenters logoOn September 17, Jeanine Breaux, former secretary-bookkeeper for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 1846, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to three years of probation, and ordered to pay $82,414 in restitution and a $100 assessment, for embezzling funds from the Metairie-based union. She had pleaded guilty in March after being charged in February. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of AFSCME Home Care Affiliate in NYC Pleads Guilty

AFSCME logoOn September 16, Juanita Phillips, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 389, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court of the State of New York to one count of grand larceny in an unspecified amount against the New York City-based home care employees union. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New Report Exposes Local Government 'Labor Peace' Agreements

Labor Peace AgreementsUnion officials often are best prepared for war when invoking the specter of "peace." A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "Labor Peace Agreements: Local Government as Union Advocate," explains why these agreements are the result of union pressure, subtle or otherwise. In such cases, a city, county or state government, having asserted a "proprietary interest" in existing or planned commercial facilities such as hotels or a sports arena, passes an ordinance requiring that a union and/or employer forgo certain rights protected by federal labor law. On the surface, these measures promote a level playing field. In practice, they are political gifts to unions. Currently, 11 states impose, or allow locally, such mandates. In response, at least three states have banned their use.

Teamsters Local Clerk in Indiana Pleads Guilty to Theft

Teamsters logoOn September 4, Celia Ferrand, former payroll clerk for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 135, pleaded guilty in Marion County, Indiana Superior Court to one count of receiving stolen property. She then was sentenced to 730 days on probation and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution. The union, with nearly 15,000 members, is based in Indianapolis. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Fire Fighters Treasurer in California Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

IAFF logoOn September 3, Paul Vargas, former treasurer of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 102-F, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to misdemeanor theft in the amount of $120 from the Lemoore, Calif. (in the San Joaquin Valley) union. He then was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and 250 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $11,065 in restitution, a $1,000 fine and a $25 special assessment. The plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Western Pennsylvania Glass Workers Treasurer Sentenced

GMP logoOn September 2, David Barr, former treasurer of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Local 99, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation for embezzling $5,688 in funds from the Beaver County, Pa.-based union. He also was ordered to pay outstanding restitution of $3,745 and a $100 special assessment. He had pleaded guilty in April after being charged in August 2013. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Former ILA Officials in New Jersey Plead Guilty to Extortion

Longshoremen at workNorthern New Jersey's International Longshoremen's Association Local 1235 has remained a profit center for the Genovese crime family despite the reform process set in motion by various prosecutions and an ILA takeover. That reality was brought home on October 15 when Robert Ruiz, an ex-local delegate to the parent union, was sentenced in Newark federal court to 20 months in prison, plus two years of supervised release, for his role in a racket to extort payments from members during Christmas season. He had pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy. Ruiz is among more than a dozen defendants in the case.

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