NYC Teamster President Sentenced for Role in Fraud and Kickback Scheme

Louis Smith won’t have to spend much in the way of prison time, but he will have to spend a lot more money. On January 24, Smith, former president of the New York City-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 810, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to one year in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for taking kickbacks as part of a conspiracy to fleece two union benefit plans out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He also was ordered to forfeit $151,481 in assets on top of the $213,264 he already had paid in restitution. Smith, along with Johnnie Miranti, an officer with Allied Novelty and Production Workers Local 223, had pleaded guilty in August. The pair, along with Miranti’s father, had been indicted in July 2015 following a joint probe by the FBI, the U.S. Labor … Read More ➡

Ex-President of Federal Employees Local in Pennsylvania Sentenced

On January 25, John Kauffman Jr., former president of National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) Local Lodge 1442, an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to one month in prison, to be followed by seven months of home confinement, for mail fraud against the Chambersburg, Pa. union. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $22,062. Kauffman had been charged last September, and pleaded guilty immediately thereafter. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Longshoremen Business Agent in Virginia Sentenced for Stealing $1M+

Robert Smith III saw his union as a free ATM machine for his personal expenses. His next few years are going to be costly. On February 2, Smith, former business agent and financial secretary of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 970, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to 41 months in prison, to be followed by three years of probation for embezzling more than $1 million in funds from the Norfolk-based union. He had pleaded guilty last October following an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Smith, now 49, a resident of Virginia Beach, ran the finances of ILA Local 970 whose members work the docks and terminals at Port of Virginia. In addition to representing workers, unfortunately, he also was stealing from them. According to prosecutors, during March 2006-April 2016 Smith deposited new member initiation fees … Read More ➡

Business Manager of Washington, D.C. LIUNA Local Sentenced

Anthony Frederick Sr. used his union as a private bank to fund various projects. For now, his only project is incarceration. Two days ago, on February 7, Frederick, former business manager of Laborers International Union of North America Local 657, was sentenced in District of Columbia federal court to four years in prison, and ordered to pay full restitution, for embezzling more than $1.7 million from the formerly Washington, D.C.-based union, which represents about 1,650 workers in Washington, D.C. and several surrounding Maryland and Virginia counties. Frederick had pleaded guilty on November 1. Two other persons, Gary Cooper and Christopher Kwegan, also were convicted in the scheme, the result of a probe by the FBI and the Labor Department.

Union Corruption Update twice has reported on this case. Frederick, now 50, a resident of Upper Marlboro, Md., had served as LIUNA Local 657 business manager for about a decade. But … Read More ➡

Teachers Union Fails to Block Florida School Choice Program

Teachers unions across the U.S. for over two decades have opposed initiatives to expand choice for parents of public school children. In some states, opposition has fallen flat. On January 18, the Florida Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO, lost its bid to win legal standing before the State Supreme Court in challenging a state tax credit scholarship program for low-income elementary and secondary students. The association, aided by a number of co-plaintiffs, had alleged that the nonprofit-managed program diverts funds from public schools to private schools and thus deprives students who remain in public schools of their right to receive a decent education. The ruling thus ends the union appeal process.

School choice has been prominent on the policy radar screen since the early 90s. It rests on the conviction that public school student performance, often substandard in low-income schools, can be boosted … Read More ➡

Washington State Security Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 18, Charles Nelson, former secretary-treasurer of the National Council of Security Police, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to six months in federal prison and three years of probation for embezzling funds from the Yakima, Wash.-based union federation. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $143,489 plus a $100 fine. Nelson had pleaded guilty last September after being charged in April. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Machinists Secretary in Oklahoma Charged; Pleads Guilty

On January 12, Kathleen Smith, former financial-treasurer of International Association of Machinists Lodge 850 and the Oklahoma State Council of Machinists, both based in Oklahoma City, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma with one count of embezzling $18,658 in union funds. She then pleaded guilty. The charge and plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

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 … Read More ➡

Los Angeles-Area ILWU Member Sentenced in Benefit Scheme

Apparently, David Gomez didn’t steal as much as the authorities had claimed. But he’s still headed for hard time. On January 9, Gomez, a resident of San Pedro, Calif. and a member of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to 41 months in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution for his role in a scheme to defraud a union-sponsored health care plan out of $258,913 for unnecessary or nonexistent chiropractic services. Gomez and co-defendant Sergio Amador received an estimated $228,000. He and Amador had pleaded guilty last October to 20 counts of mail fraud, at the time reported as totaling around $3 million. Amador pleaded guilty last year, and is scheduled for sentencing on April 6. ILWU Local 13 represents dockworkers at Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach. The actions follow a probe … Read More ➡

Trump and the Unions: How Close of a Working Relationship?

President Donald Trump and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka would seem to have nothing in common, save for the first four letters of their last names. Yet each shares a conviction that government must protect domestic industry. This common interest became clear on Monday when Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and later met that day with union officials. Trumka, who during the 2016 campaign had called Trump a “fraud,” now praised his nemesis though without mentioning his name. Teamster President James Hoffa called Trump’s order “the first step toward fixing 30 years of bad trade policies that have cost working Americans millions of good-paying jobs.” One asks: Is there an alliance in the making? The answer: Probably not.

There can be no doubt that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, unexpected as it was successful, altered some basic “Right vs. Left” assumptions about … Read More ➡

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