International Association of Machinists (IAM)

Government Recovers $8.583 Million in Chicago Racketeering Case

William V. Close, ex-trustee of the pension funds of Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 710 and Auto. and Int'l Ass'n of Machinists Local 701 (a.k.a. Auto. Mechanics Union Local 701), both of which are in Chicago, was sentenced May 30  along with pension fund managers Christopher P. Roach and Richard S. Tringale on federal racketeering conspiracy and pension fund kickback charges arising out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission kickbacks.

California Boss Gets Five Months for $64,700 Embezzlement

Deborah Bankston, ex-financial secretary-treasurer of Ass'n of Western Pulp & Paper Workers Local 83 in Stockton, Cal., was sentenced Feb. 20 to five months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised probation for embezzling $64,711.65 in union funds. She was also ordered to make full restitution.  Bankston pled guilty to one count of union embezzlement. She was charged on Sept. 26. [DOL 2/20/02]

Washington Staffer Charged with $15,600 Embezzlement
Geri E. Abbe, ex-office secretary for Ass'n of Western Pulp & Paper Workers Local 5 in Camas, Wash., was charged Feb. 22 in a one-count information with embezzling $15,690 in union funds. [DOL 2/22/02]

Union Fund Manager Admits to Kickbacks

A N.Y. union pension fund consultant admitted Feb 6. that he paid kickbacks to a fund trustee. George W. Philipps, ex-president and owner of Pension Fund Evaluations, Inc., a consulting firm in Centerreach, N.Y., pled guilty before U.S. Dist, Judge Nancy Gertner (D. Mass., Clinton) in Boston to a charge of paying kickbacks to William V. Close, who was then a trustee of the pension funds of Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 710 and Auto. and Int'l Ass'n of Machinists Local 701 (a.k.a., Auto. Mechanics Union Local 701), both of which are in Chicago.

Indiana Boss Charged with Forgery and $4,000 Theft

On Dec. 17, in Wayne County (Ind.) Superior Court, Priscilla Crist, ex-president of Auto Workers Local 2374 in Richmond, Ind., was indicted for forgery and theft of $4,092 in union funds. [DOL 12/17/02]

Georgia Boss Charged with False Recordkeeping
Joseph Argo, ex-president of Int'l Ass'n of Machinists Lodge 615 in Marietta, Ga., was charged in a one-count information with false financial recordkeeping. [DOL 1/15/02]

Atlanta Boss Charged for Failing to Maintain Financial Records
On Jan. 15, Charles Astin, ex-president of Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union Local 343 in Atlanta, was charged in a one-count information with failure to maintain union financial records. [DOL 1/15/02]

Florida Boss Allegedly Concealed Records
On Dec. 17, in U.S. Dist. Court for the S. Dist. of Fla., David Lareau, ex-business manager of Int'l Bhd. of Painters & Allied Trades Local 160, was charged in a one-count information with concealing and withholding union financial records.

DOL Sues Dallas Local over Tainted Election

The Dep't of Labor filed suit Jan. 18 in U.S. Dist. Court for the N. Dist. of Texas against the Am. Postal Workers Union Local 732 of Dallas. The suit resulted from an DOL probe of the local's May 19, 2001 mail ballot officer and delegate election. DOL found that the local denied eligible members the right to vote, in that the local failed to mail ballots to all eligible members, and failed to count all ballots that had been returned by eligible members to the post office prior to the deadline. DOL also found that the local improperly permitted ineligible members to vote in violation of the union constitution and bylaws. The suit seeks  new election for 11 officer and 39 delegate positions under DOL supervision. [DOL 1/18/02]

Union Fund Manager Charged

Federal prosecutors in Boston and Chicago announced today that George Philipps, president of a N.Y. investment consulting firm, Pension Fund Evaluations, Inc., was charged Dec. 18 in a one count information with paying illegal kickbacks to William Close, ex- trustee of the pension funds of Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 710 and Int'l Ass'n of Machinists Local 701 (a.k.a., the Auto. Mechanics Union), both of Chicago. Allegedly, from about Mar.-Nov. 1997, Philipps paid kickbacks to Close in exchange for Close directing that trades of assets of the two pension funds be executed through PFE's clearing brokers. PFE in turn had agreements with the brokers that PFE would receive 70% of commissions earned on the trades. Close previously pled guilty to racketeering charges arising out of his receipt of illegal kickbacks, and is awaiting sentencing. [USAO D. Mass. 12/18/01]

Pennsylvania Bosses Accused of Campaigning on Local's Time

The Dep't of Labor filed suit Aug. 30 in the U.S. Dist. Court for the W. Dist. of Pa. against United Ass'n of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 354 in Youngwood, Pa. DOL's investigation into the local's Apr. 7 election found that, during the 2-week period prior to the election, the incumbent business manager, along with business agents, campaigned to members at several work sites while on time paid for by the local. DOL's complaint seeks a new election for 4 positions under DOL supervision. [DOL 8/30/01]

DOL Seeks New Election at California Local
The Dep't of Labor filed a complaint May 4 in the U.S. Dist. Court for the E. Dist. of Cal. against the United Ass'n of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 442 in Stockton, Cal.. DOL's investigation into the local's Dec. 16, 2000 election uncovered that a candidate violated the local's bylaws when he campaigned for office by "meeting and greeting" voters on election day within a prohibited area. The complaint seeks a new election under DOL supervision for one local union officer position. [DOL 5/4/01]

House Subcommittee Holds Beck Hearing

On May 10, the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Educ. & the Workforce Committee held a hearing on workers' rights not to become union members and not to pay dues for unions' nonrepresentational activities and to investigate how union bosses abuse such rights under the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision Communications Workers of Am. v. Beck.  Beck held that employees covered by a union security clause in a collective bargaining agreement who choose not to become union members and object to having their dues spent on political and other nonrepresentational activities only can be charged agency fees for union activities related to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment.

"Based on the evidence I have seen, I am convinced that some union locals do, in fact, regularly trample on the rights of individuals in far excess of the scope of their permissible authority," Subcommittee Chairman Charles Norwood (R-Ga.) said. "Too many workers seem to get the run-around when they try to exercise their rights."

Seattle Union Loses Sex Case, Jury Awards $638,000

A Washington state jury  awarded $638,764 to a ex-union steward Mar. 29 after finding that Int'l Ass'n of Machinists Dist. 160 in Seattle discriminated against her because of her sex. The jury found Dist. 160 violated the Wash. Law Against Discrimination by not hiring Linda Blaney, a senior chief shop steward, as business representative, and also by removing her from the steward position. The order directing the union to pay Blaney was signed April 9.

According to Blaney's attorney, the jury decided the union illegally failed to hire Blaney as business representative in 1998, 1999, and 2000. The jury awarded her $112,903 in lost wages and benefits, $450,861 in future lost wages and benefits. The jury award on the failure-to-hire charge included no damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress.  In connection with Blaney's removal from the shop steward job, the jury awarded her $75,000 in pain, suffering, and emotional distress, and no amounts for past or future wages and benefits.

Seventh Circuit Rules against Chicago Union in Illegal Slowdown Case

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held Mar. 14 that U.S. Dist. Judge William J. Hibbler erred in refusing to issue a preliminary injunction to compel the Int'l Ass'n of Machinists to discourage its member mechanics from engaging in a work slowdown at United Air Lines. The appeals court remanded the case with instructions to enter a preliminary injunction against IAM Dist. Lodge 141-M and to quickly hold a trial on whether to grant a permanent injunction.

On remand, Hibbler granted UAL a preliminary injunction Mar. 22, barring IAM mechanics from engaging in a work slowdown. The preliminary injunction will remain in effect while Hibbler considers UAL's petition for a permanent injunction.

UAL claimed that IAM, frustrated with the pace of bargaining contract negotiations, orchestrated an illegal work slowdown by approximately 15,000 mechanics, resulting in hundreds of canceled and delayed flights since the alleged slowdown began last summer.

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