Obnoxiousness is a universal human trait. But for unions, it’s a tool of persuasion. Large employers, with good reason, are wary. A new paper from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Hardball: The Tactics of Union Corporate Campaigns,” summarizes organized labor’s frequently aggressive, predatory shakedown tactics in the search to win concessions from supposedly morally errant employers. These campaigns, which seek to discredit a targeted firm’s brand name in hopes of winning concessions, involve extensive groundwork; these campaigns can last for years. Unions and their allies test the legal limits of protest, while raising the costs of business. Undeterred by reality, certain lawmakers on Capitol Hill, led by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., are sponsoring bills to repeal safeguards against such behavior.
The fallout from the Chrysler-United Auto Workers scandal continues. On November 7, two former executives of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Jerome Durden and Michael Brown, along with an ex-UAW official, Keith Mickens, were sentenced in Detroit federal court for their roles in a broad scheme in which representatives of the auto manufacturer bribed union negotiators to avoid raising key issues during contract negotiations a few years ago. They are the third, fourth and fifth defendants to be sentenced in the scandal, estimated at $4.5 million, which also involved embezzlement and income tax evasion. The latest actions, said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, represent “further strides in our effort to root out corruption” at FCA and UAW.
Union Corruption Update has covered this pay-for-play scandal many times since it broke last July. The primary culprits were Chrysler Vice President Al Iacobelli, UAW Vice President General Holifield, and Holifield’s girlfriend and … Read More ➡
On October 15, John Zehm, former business manager for the Tile Setters and Finishers Union of Northern California, pleaded guilty in the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, to one misdemeanor count of grand theft from the Sacramento-based union. He then was sentenced to 90 days in jail (suspended) and three years of informal probation, and was ordered to pay $300 in fines. In addition, as part of his plea agreement, he already had paid $14,014 in restitution. Zehm had been indicted this June. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On October 25, Anthony Edmunds, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2419, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to one count of embezzling funds from the Danville, Ill. union in the sum of $19,482. He had been indicted last December. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On July 23, Deborah Hand, former bookkeeper for Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 270, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to three months of incarceration, five months of home confinement and three years of supervised release for embezzling funds from the Tulsa-based union. She also was ordered to pay $44,808 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. Hand had pleaded guilty on July 31 after being charged a week earlier in a one-count information. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Secret Service.… Read More ➡
On October 17, Benjamin Wisecarver, former president of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 264, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on three counts of embezzlement, two counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy for his role in a scheme that embezzled $57,310 from the Hampton, Va.-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡
Susan Kyle proved extraordinarily clever. But in the end, she was not clever enough. On October 29, Kyle, former treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2428, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to embezzling $490,338 in funds from the Oakland-based union, which represents employees of East Bay Regional Parks. She also pleaded guilty to concealing her thefts in union financial records. As part of her plea, she agreed to pay full restitution. Kyle had been charged on October 5. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Kyle, now 61, served as treasurer of AFSCME Local 2428 during 1999-2014. According to prosecutors, she spent the last seven of those years ripping off the union. On numerous occasions, she instructed a third-party payroll processing company to issue unauthorized payments to herself and then … Read More ➡
For certain members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 858, out-of-town union events provided an opportunity for good side money. The issue is whether they attended those events or whether the events themselves even happened. On August 20, the City of Pasadena placed three municipal workers on leave in light of evidence that they received “highly questionable” payments from the union totaling nearly $65,000. The trio, plus two former City employees, are the focus of a separate ongoing AFSCME probe. Nobody has been arrested or charged. Indeed, police so far have not been called in to investigate. But union investigators believe that there is a real possibility of criminal activity. AFSCME Administrator Jeff Bigelow terms the expenses “unusual, inappropriate and possibly unlawful.”
AFSCME Local 858 represents nearly 300 employees of the City of Pasadena, located in the northern portion of Los Angeles County. Union members often … Read More ➡
Norman Seabrook once represented guards at Rikers Island, one of the nation’s toughest city jails. He now likely will do some serious prison time. On August 15, Seabrook (in photo), former longtime president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), was found guilty by a Manhattan federal jury of honest services fraud and conspiracy related to a $60,000 bribe he had taken a few years earlier from the head of a now-bankrupt hedge fund in return for steering $20 million in COBA assets to the fund. The hedge fund CEO, Murray Huberfeld, and his emissary, Jona Rechnitz, already had pleaded guilty. Seabrook’s previous trial ended in a hung jury last November. “I will be vindicated because God is still on his throne,” said Seabrook after his conviction, vowing to appeal. Sentencing is set for November 30.
The Supreme Court’s Janus decision four months ago, which overturned the authority of public-sector unions to force nonmember employees under contract to pay dues or risk losing their jobs, has taken some unexpected turns. Indeed, barely after the ruling, a Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit group, the Buckeye Institute, filed separate suits on behalf of a high school teacher in Ohio and a college professor in Minnesota challenging the authority of their respective unions to bargain exclusively. In effect, the plaintiffs seek to be freed from representation they never requested in the first place. “These capable public servants have the right to speak for themselves and should be released from forced association with unions and advocacy with which they disagree,” said Institute President Robert Alt. The unions have a different view.
Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 was the most important U.S. Supreme Court decision on public-sector unionism in more than 40 … Read More ➡