Ronald Karr, former secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2359, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine for embezzling $158,150 from the Sugar Grove, Ohio union. He previously had made full restitution. Karr had been charged last November and pleaded guilty in December. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 22, Nathan Lee, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Local 536, was charged in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia with one count of theft in the amount of $3,074 from the Atlanta-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 23, Anthony Davis, president of National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 314, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on one count of embezzling $40,659 in funds from the St. Louis union. The Mail Handlers are an affiliate of the Laborers International Union of North America. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On April 22, Kristie McClarren, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 3061, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to 18 months of confinement, followed by two years of supervised release, for embezzling $152,639 in funds from the Crestline (near Mansfield), Ohio union. She also was ordered to make full restitution. McClarren had pleaded guilty in January after being charged last December. The local represents employees at the Pittsburgh Glass Works plant in nearby Shelby. The actions follow a joint investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
An employer presumably sets the rules as to who uses its e-mail accounts and for what purposes. But that presumption might not hold if the users are union organizers. On April 30, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) posted a notice soliciting comments on an October ruling by an Administrative Law Judge, Purple Communications Inc., that an employer has the discretion to deny the use of its e-mail system for organizing. If the NLRB reverses the decision, which is likely given its current 3-2 pro-union majority, it would be handing unions a potent organizing tool, and more broadly, restricting employer property rights. A victory by the Communications Workers of America in this case would overturn a 2007 board decision protecting an employer's right to bar the usage of its e-mail for organizing.
On April 14, Robert Vargeson, former treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 88329, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania with falsifying financial records of the Galeton, Pa. (Potter County)-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On March 27, Robert Lewis, former treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3585, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in a criminal information count with embezzlement of $77,469 in funds from the Canton (near Peoria), Ill. union. Less than three weeks later, on April 14, he signed a waiver of indictment and pled guilty. AFSCME Local 3585 represents employees at the Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
If nothing else, Wisconsin's public-sector unions are as unrelenting in the courts as they are in the streets. But they're still no closer to their goal of overturning a 2011 law limiting their collective bargaining abilities. On April 18, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, unanimously ruled that the law, Act 10, did not violate free speech, free association or equal protection rights of unions representing employees of the City of Madison and the rest of Dane County. The ruling, which upheld a district court decision in September, concluded the State of Wisconsin is not required to maintain policies that support private associations such as unions. This case is separate from one in January 2013 in which the Seventh Circuit Court, by 2-1, upheld the entirety of the law.
How much evidence does it take to make a conviction stick? Federal prosecutors in New Jersey probably have asked that question more than once since April 10, when U.S. District Judge William Martini, responding to a motion filed by the defense, tossed out the two convictions of Richard "Buzzy" Dressel, former business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164. Dressel and Local 164 President John DeBouter had been indicted in November 2012 on eight counts related to the embezzlement of a combined $350,000 in union and apprenticeship funds. A Newark jury in November 2013 convicted Dressel for embezzlement and conspiracy. DeBouter was indefinitely excused from the case after his lawyer experienced a brain aneurysm while questioning a witness. His trial has yet to resume.
On April 16, Jonathan Smith, former financial secretary of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2247, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska on one count of embezzling $40,000 in funds from the Juneau-based union. Prosecutors say that during April 16, 2007-May 8, 2012, Smith stole from membership dues. Eventually, other union officials, having grown suspicious, conducted an internal audit. Their fears confirmed, they requested an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.