SEIU Puts Michigan Health Care Affiliate in Trusteeship, Probes Possible Fraud

Financial malpractice rarely goes out of season among a number of health care affiliates of the Service Employees International Union. On February 14, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry placed SEIU Healthcare Michigan under emergency trusteeship following allegations by an unnamed internal whistleblower that two of its top officials had abused the Detroit-based union’s loan and vacation policies. Henry removed Marge Robinson and Shalaya Bryant, respectively, the union president and secretary-treasurer, and replaced them with three trustees to manage day-to-day affairs. While no dollar figure on the missing funds is available, evidence suggests it is substantial. The union, as it was, had been bleeding membership after the enactment by the Michigan legislature of Right to Work legislation several years ago.

Marge Faville Robinson, a nurse by profession, had done well for herself heading SEIU Healthcare Michigan (HCMI). According to the annual financial data submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor, her …

Kentucky Passes Right to Work Law; Missouri Likely Will Follow

Labor officials typically go all out to protect their authority under federal law to collect dues from unwilling workers covered by union contract.  And they’ve been especially active in states considering passage of Right to Work laws designed to protect employees against such coercion.  Add a “definite” and a “probable” to the list.  On January 7, Kentucky Republican Governor Matt Bevin signed legislation passed only hours earlier by the Senate making the state the 27th in the U.S. with the Right to Work in place.  A couple of weeks later, on January 25, the Missouri Senate approved a bill almost identical to one passed earlier by the House; Republican Governor Eric Greitens has announced that he will sign a compromise bill.  Unions, not unexpectedly, are not happy about these developments.

Unions for decades have enjoyed certain monopoly privileges contained in the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.  One …

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Benefit scams, especially involving health plans, grabbed the lion’s share of union corruption stories in 2016.  Scammers came from outside as well as from inside the unions, a fact highlighting the need for trustees to exercise greater due diligence in choosing outside parties.  There were also the usual cases of six-figure (or more) embezzlement and fraud against union general funds.  Labor officials, meanwhile, expanded their misguided campaign to enact a $15 an hour minimum wage.  They also tried to undo Right to Work laws in three states, temporarily achieving success in two by way of court action.  And a deadlocked Supreme Court enabled state and local public-sector union bosses to retain their authority to coerce dues payments from unwilling workers.  In other words, there was plenty to write about.  Here were the ten stories that mattered most:

10)  Hawaii contractor pleads guilty; sentenced for scamming Painters union, benefit fund, IRS

Unions Step Up Attack on Right to Work Legislation

right-to-workFor decades, unions in America have asserted what they see as their right to extract dues from non-joining workers.  Lately, they’ve gotten creative in challenging state Right to Work laws that protect such workers.  Earlier this month they lost a ballot initiative in South Dakota to overturn that state’s longstanding law.  In Wisconsin the story was different.  Union leaders persuaded a county judge in April to overturn a similar law enacted last year at the urging of Gov. Scott Walker, though the State did manage to obtain a hold on the order.  And in West Virginia, labor chieftains in August won an injunction to suspend Right to Work legislation passed months earlier over Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto.  All this carries extra significance in the wake of the September death of Reed Larson, long the embodiment of the Right to Work principle.

Unions in this country often claim that employers …

SEIU, State of Minnesota Pick Pockets of Home Care Workers

home care providerIn Minnesota, the Service Employees International Union might qualify as a separate branch of government.  Governor Mark Dayton, for one, wouldn’t object. Three years ago the State of Minnesota enacted a law opening the door to unionizing private home care providers for the disabled.  The law soon seemed destined for oblivion.  In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Harris v. Quinn, ruled that an Illinois law forcing home care workers to pay union dues violated their free speech rights.  That these employees received a portion of their incomes from state Medicaid funds, said the Court, does not subject them to a public-sector labor agreement.  Yet the Minnesota law’s supporters have managed to sidestep that ruling, enriching union coffers in the process.

The Service Employees gambit in Minnesota goes back nearly five years.  In November 2011, Governor Dayton, a Democrat, issued an executive order authorizing union elections for private …

Massachusetts Contractors Indicted for $2M+ LIUNA Double-Breasting Scheme

liuna logoEmployees of Christopher and Kimberly Thompson were being had, even if most weren’t aware of it until the hammer came down.  On January 26, the Thompsons, operators of a Boston-area asbestos removal company, were indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on 18 counts of mail fraud, 18 counts of benefit fraud and one count of embezzlement in a scheme to defraud members of a Laborers local out of more than $2 million in promised benefits.  The case has all the appearances of double-breasting.  Following their arrest, the couple pleaded not guilty in February and currently are free on bond.  As of this writing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office website indicates no subsequent action.  The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General.

Christopher and Kimberly Thompson, a husband-and-wife couple, now both 52, residents of Windham, New …

Supreme Court Deadlocked in Friedrichs; Public-Sector Unions Win

In sports, there is a saying:  “There’s nothing worse than a tie.”  For public-sector unions, however, a tie is now reason to celebrate.  Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced it was deadlocked 4-4 over whether public-sector labor unions have the authority to force nonmembers to pay partial dues (“agency fees”) to keep their jobs.  The tie, made possible by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia, removed the likely deciding vote in favor of the plaintiffs, the leader of whom was a California teacher, Rebecca Friedrichs (in photo). During oral arguments in January, a 5-4 win for the plaintiffs appeared certain.  The Court did not reschedule the case, and in so doing, left intact a dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims by a federal appeals court.  Mandatory fees remain a fact of life.   

Union Corruption Update delved into this case at length last July.  On June 30, the Supreme Court, …

West Virginia Enacts Right to Work Law over Governor’s Veto

New River Gorge Suspension Bridge, West VirginiaThe Right to Work juggernaut continues to roll in seemingly unlikely places.  On Friday, February 12, West Virginia Republican lawmakers overrode a veto by Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to pass legislation barring unions from forcing employers to fire workers who decline to pay dues.  The votes, 55-43 in the House of Delegates and 18-16 in the Senate – only a simple majority is required for a veto – make West Virginia the 26th state with such a law.  The measure had been introduced only a month earlier.  Mark Mix, president of the Springfield, Va.-based National Right to Work Committee, commented after the vote:  “Now, more than half of the states have enacted Right to Work laws to protect workers’ fundamental right to freedom of association.”  The state’s unions have a different view.

Organized labor resolutely has opposed the Right to Work principle for decades.  And it’s little wonder.  …

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

As in 2014, union leaders last year directed much of their energies toward maximizing political and legal advantage.  And they scored tangible victories.  President Barack Obama, now in his last year in office, is without question the best White House friend of organized labor in decades.  Among other things, unions won major cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), with its built-in 3-2 Democratic Party majority.  And the Teamsters achieved its long-sought goal of release from federal control established following a 1989 civil racketeering settlement.  Yet organized labor also experienced its share of setbacks, especially in the courts.  And they received lots of unwanted exposure for embezzlement and fraud.  As far as rank and file members are concerned, the most pressing problem is the growing possibility that their pension plans will be depleted.

The NLRB delivered two indisputably enormous victories for labor.  As discussed at length last January, the …

New Study Finds Right to Work Laws Don’t Reduce Wages

Righ to Work posterWorkers might not like being forced to pay dues to a union, but they should be grateful anyway because they see more on their paychecks – so goes a common justification offered by union officials for such coercion.  Yet a new Heritage Foundation Issue Brief makes a convincing case that this view leaves out at least as much as it includes.  The author, Heritage fellow and labor issues analyst James Sherk, concludes that after fully taking into account the cost of living, private-sector wages in states with Right to Work laws (i.e., laws barring forced dues payments) are not significantly different from those in states without such laws.  Moreover, while Right to Work laws do slightly reduce public employee pay, they also save taxpayers money.  The study is at once a sequel and a rebuke to one published in April by the Left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

The National Labor Relations …

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