When it comes to living large, no union is quite the match for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. And the IBB appears to be setting an example for its local affiliates. Late last month, KDKA, the CBS television affiliate for the Pittsburgh area, confirmed that the FBI has launched an investigation of the Pittsburgh-based Boilermakers Local 154. The union, which represents more than 2,000 welders, pipefitters and other construction workers, may have diverted as much as $1 million in member dues for unauthorized expenditures during the three most recent fiscal years. The probe is based on financial reports submitted to the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Six-figure salaries, questionable consulting fees and lavish getaway vacations aren't exactly unknown in the upper reaches of organized labor. But officials of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB), have been taking these and other perks to a new level. That's the conclusion of an exhaustive investigative report published in the Kansas City Star on Sunday, May 13. The author, Judy Thomas, spent many months combing through IBB financial reports and tax returns. Family members of Boilermakers President Newton Jones and other officials have been making out especially well. The Kansas City, Kan.-based union defends its spending and hiring practices, arguing that it operates within the bounds of the law and economic necessity. Yet a number of dues-paying members have a different view.