On October 27, Chad Petras, former secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342C, pleaded guilty in the Hamilton County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas to one count of attempted theft of funds from the union. He then was sentenced to 180 days in jail (suspended) and one year of probation, and was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution and a $150 fine. Petras had been indicted on one count in January 2013. The union, at the time of the offense was based in Rising Sun, Ind., but since has moved to Cincinnati. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On October 27, Julie Skaggs, former office manager of International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 372, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to six months of home detention and five years of probation for embezzlement of $51,491 in funds from the Cincinnati union. She also was ordered to pay $67,874 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. Skaggs pleaded guilty in July after being charged in March 2014. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On October 20, James Adams, former secretary treasurer of Transportation Division Local 427 of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation, or SMART (formerly United Transportation Union), was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on one count of embezzling $45,043 in funds from the Byram, Miss.-based union and one count of making false statements in union financial records. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On October 19, Richard Molczyk, former treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 493, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska to five years of probation and ordered to pay $13,196 in restitution and a $100 special assessment for embezzling funds from the Omaha union. He had pleaded guilty in April after being indicted in August 2014. United Transportation Union is now formally Transportation Division of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART), the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers having merged several years ago. Local 493 is now based in Fort Dodge, Iowa. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On October 19, Brian Scott, former president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 503, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on one count of embezzlement of an unspecified sum and one count of false reporting. The union is based in Monroe (Orange County), N.Y. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
“Card Check: The Sequel” has arrived. No, it’s not a movie. It’s a congressional bill. And labor unions are counting on a happy ending this time. On October 6, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., unveiled the Workplace Democracy Act (S.2142, H.R. 3690). The measure would force nonunion private-sector employers to recognize a union as a bargaining agent if it obtains signed pledge cards from over half of all potentially affected workers. This organizing tactic, known as a “card check,” is legal. And unions often use it as a prelude to, or a substitute for, a secret ballot representation election. The bill’s name is misleading. It’s no more about democracy than its almost identical forerunner, the Employee Free Choice Act, was about freedom of choice. And its economic effects are not likely to be salutary.
A debit card can be highly convenient, especially if the name on the card refers to a deceased individual. William Davis has found out such a practice carries a downside. On October 23, federal prosecutors announced the indictment of Davis, ex-president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1119, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on one count of wire fraud and two counts of making false financial statements in the theft of more than $120,000 in union funds. The union represents about 300 employees at the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System’s FDR campus in Montrose, N.Y. (Westchester County). The charges follow a joint probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General.
For Stephanie Hicks, the bill for more than a half-decade of thefts has come due. Last Tuesday, November 17, Hicks, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2207, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to six months in federal prison, plus six months of home detention, for embezzling more than $92,000 from the union, which represents employees at the Birmingham VA Hospital. Hicks had pleaded guilty to bank fraud and forgery in June after being indicted for embezzling over $132,000. The actions follow a joint investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor.
For a while, Richard “Buzzy” Dressel wasn't certain whether he would be headed for prison. He's more certain now. On August 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reinstated the jury guilty verdict of Dressel, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164, on charges of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Paramus, N.J.-based union and its job training fund. In reversing U.S. District Judge William Martini’s decision of April 2014 that had tossed out two embezzlement convictions, the appellate court stated: “The jury’s verdict was not irrational, as there was sufficient evidence to convict Dressel of embezzling union funds.” Dressel allegedly had used the money to provide his girlfriend (and now wife) with a no-show union job and to bankroll her catering business with a no-bid contract.
Railroading innocent persons into prison, or extracting outsized settlements from them, is now a defining feature of civil rights activism. The possibility of such an outcome explains why Kendrick Johnson, a Valdosta, Georgia black teen who died in a freak accident at his high school nearly three years ago, has become a rallying symbol for “anti-racist” activists. Johnson isn’t as familiar as the late Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown. But give it some time. From the start, the Johnson family and supporters have insisted, without evidence, that he was the victim of a racially-motivated murder and cover-up. They’ve convinced the Justice Department to search for the “killer,” and with methods that subvert due process. It's only fitting that Al Sharpton, a master of racial hoaxes, has left his mark.