On August 14, Christopher Wheeler, former president of International Association of EMTs and Paramedics Local 43, was indicted on two counts of theft totaling $3,769 in Medina County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court. The charges follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Sandy Hawkes had a problem with her bills. She may have created a far bigger problem by stealing from her union to pay them. On July 5, Hawkes, secretary-treasurer for the Somers Classified Education Association, was charged in Flathead County, Montana District Court with embezzling about $9,000 in union funds. She already had resigned from her regular job as a secretary at Lakeside Elementary School a month earlier. The charge follows an investigation by the sheriff's office of fast-growing Flathead County, located in northwest Montana just south of the Canadian border. Hawkes pleaded not guilty on August 1. Given the evidence, one has to wonder why.
Those questioning the State of Michigan's decision in March 2012 to take control of 15 Detroit city schools should consider the people working for the union representing its teachers - people, at least, like Sherri Patrick. On August 7, Ms. Patrick, formerly business manager of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with defrauding the union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, over a four-year period. The charge follows, belatedly, a complaint filed by the union with the Detroit Police Department.
For some two decades, Project Labor Agreements, or PLAs, have enabled unions in various states to dictate hiring for large-scale, taxpayer-funded construction projects. In Michigan, at least, this labor monopoly has been thwarted. On September 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a Michigan law, Public Act 238, enacted last year to bar the use of government-mandated PLAs. The legislation was a response to a lower court ruling in favor of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, an AFL-CIO affiliate. The latest ruling marks a second major victory this year for the open shop; New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie in April vetoed a bill that would have mandated PLAs for coastal-area reconstruction in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Derrick Alexander apparently thought his union was a personal bank account. Now he's finding out the difference the hard way. On September 11, Alexander, formerly secretary-treasurer of International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) Local 1422-A, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina with embezzling nearly $55,000 from the Charleston union and concealing the thefts after the fact. A grand jury had concluded that Alexander made a "false statement and representation of material fact knowing it to be false." The four-count indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On August 12, Frank Juarez, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 6768, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to three years of probation, of which 180 days must be served in home detention, for embezzling funds from the Plano union. He also was ordered to pay $21,151 in restitution and a $100 assessment. Juarez had been charged in February. No information is available as to a guilty plea. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Calvin Sanders was more than just careless. And that's why he faces a potential five-year prison sentence. Sanders, who had served as president of Local 638C of the United Food and Commercial Workers during June 2007-February 2010, was charged on August 8 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana with embezzling $24,028 in funds from the Lafayette, La.-based union. He then pleaded guilty. According to federal prosecutors, Sanders, 52, a resident of Franklin, La., made unauthorized withdrawals from Local 638C general and strike fund checking accounts, and also paid personal utility bills with union funds.
On August 8, Danny Hubbard, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1380, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to 24 counts of wire fraud against the Panama City, Fla. union. He had been charged last November. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Few things mobilize unions more than the prospect of passage of a Right to Work law in a given state. This reality of labor politics also applies to the aftermath. Just hours ago, a group of unions filed an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court to overturn an August 15 ruling by a state Court of Appeals that public-sector Right to Work legislation, passed in December, applies to state civil service employees. That decision, for the time being, freed roughly 36,000 Michigan state government workers from worrying about losing their jobs because they refuse to pay financial tribute to a union.
On August 6, Mark Gilbert, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 805, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to embezzling $8,467.10 in funds from the Florence, Ky.-based union. He had been indicted in June. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.