On January 27, Nereida Norris, clerk craft director of American Postal Workers Union Local 98, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas with making a false statement in financial records of the Fort Worth-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Orientation is a challenging time at a workplace. New hires find themselves having to learn a lot in a short time. That’s why their employers provide them with handbooks explaining the rules and addressing potential questions about them. Unions, however, see these pamphlets as thinly-veiled attempts to suppress worker organizing rights. During the Obama years, they have had an unofficial partner in the National Labor Relations Board. A new monograph published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Theater of the Absurd: The NLRB Takes on the Employee Handbook,” should dispel any doubts that this alliance is real. The 43-page report, written by Chamber senior staffer Sean Redmond, documents how the ostensibly "neutral" five-member board now sides regularly with unions over handbook-related complaints that have little, if any, validity.
On January 22, Therlen Benally, former treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America Local 1386, pleaded guilty in Maricopa County (Phoenix) Superior Court to theft, identity theft and forgery after being charged in a 29-count indictment last October. Anne Susan, former business manager of the Phoenix-based local, had pleaded guilty this January on similar charges after being indicted in October. Local 1386 represents certain area health care employees. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Medical insurance fraud is one of America’s leading growth industries. And doctors are prominent among those getting fat and rich. Looking on the bright side, some of them also get caught and punished. Last August 28, Dr. Robert Kolbusz, a Chicago-area dermatologist, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to seven years in prison and ordered to pay more than $3.7 million in restitution for falsely billing Medicare and private health insurers for phony skin cancer treatments. Among fleeced entities were area union health plans. A jury had convicted Kolbusz in October 2014 on three counts each of wire fraud and mail fraud following a seven-count indictment in the early fall of 2012. The actions follow a probe by the FBI and the Inspector General’s Offices of the Labor and Health & Human Services Departments.
On January 20, Michelle Misso, former bookkeeper for Iron Workers Local 63, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to three months in prison and one year of supervision for making false entries in records of the Westchester (Cook County), Ill. union to conceal her embezzlement of $47,161. She had pleaded guilty last October after being charged in August. In addition to her prison sentence, Misso was ordered to pay residual restitution totaling $31,161. The union previously had been based in nearby Broadview, Ill. The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Lowell Wreh headed a union that represented jail workers. Now he faces the possibility of being an inmate. On January 20, Wreh, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1707, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to one count of wire fraud in the amount of $7,642 against the Kansas City, Mo. union, which represents employees of the Jackson County Department of Corrections. The guilty plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On January 19, Jesus Gonzales, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 300, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to making false entries in financial records of the Lansing-based union. Gonzales had been charged in August with embezzling $6,720 and then concealing the theft. The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General.
When the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Justice Department agreed last January to replace the tight government oversight established over 25 years earlier with union self-regulation, the terms called for phasing out the federal role over five years rather than lifting it all at once. Dues-paying members may be grateful for such a precaution. This February 10, the court-approved monitoring agency known as the Independent Review Board (IRB) issued a report charging Northern California Teamster leader Rome Aloise with various acts of corruption, including racketeering and influence-peddling. Nearly two weeks later, Hoffa, after reviewing the report, filed charges against Aloise with the union disciplinary board. Aloise has run for election on the Hoffa slate. But loyalty alone might not be enough to save his job.
On January 27, John McCain, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 1016, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on one count of embezzlement of $30,948 in funds from the Poplar Bluff, Mo. union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
The promotion was nice, but it couldn’t save Clinton Humphrey from being caught. On January 26, Humphrey, formerly secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 386, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas with embezzling $51,811.70 in funds from the Texarkana, Ark.-based union. He then pleaded guilty. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.