Probe of CA Teachers Association Concludes

San Bernardino Co., CA District Attorney’s Office’s investigation into embezzlement schemes involving local teachers unions concluded on Jul. 8, when San Bernardino Co. Superior Court sentenced Nancy Hooper to 180 days of electronic surveillance. Hooper had pled guilty to 8 counts of grand theft embezzlement and 1 count of receiving stolen property. Hooper stole more than $36,000 from the Fontana Teachers Association’s checking account for her personal use. The former Fontana City Councilwoman was also ordered to pay $11,000 in restitution, which is on top of $22,000 already paid. She will also pay the $400 monthly surveillance cost.

This comes less than a month after a Rialto, CA teachers union official was sentenced to 28 months in prison for embezzling about $110,000 from the Rialto Educators Association and Citrus Belt UniServ which oversees several area teachers unions including Fontana Teachers Association. Mary Jane Bronson pleaded guilty to 2 counts of … Read More ➡

Dissention in the Teamsters Ranks in A-B Strike Vote

Some Teamsters are angry at the way their union is handling negotiations with Anheuser-Busch (A-B) and have successfully delayed the counting of votes on the latest strike proposal. The ballots mailed to 8,000 Teamsters were supposed to be counted on Jul. 15, but the challenges delayed the mailing of ballots and pushed back the count to Jul. 30. Bosses at 8 of the 16 locals that represent the A-B workers asked the Teamsters to call off the vote. The opponents said they were confused about what they were voting on because of additional proposals. But the Teamsters systematically rejected all the opponents’ challenges. Officers of the Baldwinsville, NY and Williamsburg, VA locals hoped the Teamsters would reconsider its decision; otherwise, court action is possible according to Steve Richmond, a member of the Baldwinsville union’s negotiating team. He said that federal law guarantees workers the right to an “informed vote” in … Read More ➡

Improper Election of Rhode Island Boss

RI’s American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 94 has been ordered to rerun election of top officers because it allegedly failed to ensure a secret-ballot vote. The investigation was sparked by self-styled dissident Linda C. Riendeau who lost to incumbent union boss J. Thomas Chellel at the Apr. convention. Chellel has run Council 94 since 1979. AFSCME’s judicial panel in Washington questioned whether 71 delegates to the convention, who voted on behalf of 8,000 union members, were able to vote by secret ballot. The panel was also troubled by a plan to change the formula for determining the size of Council 94’s executive board which the panel said was improperly adopted and didn’t allow Riendeau a chance to organize her own board slate. Announced Jul. 10, the rerun will be Aug. 12. [Providence Journal-Bulletin 07/09/98 & 07/11/98]

Lazy Unions In Springfield, IL
Poor work habits by … Read More ➡

Sweeney’s Internal Squabble Grows

Since elected president in 1995, Sweeney relentlessly talked about the AFL-CIO’s need for signing up new members. But critics inside the AFL-CIO are now saying it’s just talk. “Sweeney’s bid to revitalize labor has been dealt a setback — and he himself has delivered the blow,” according to Business Week . On Jun. 8, Sweeney, “abruptly fired AFL-CIO Organizing Director Richard Bensinger, the brains behind labor’s recruitment strategies and its charismatic proselytizer.” Irate Bensinger supporters blamed Sweeney’s aides: Chief of Staff Robert W. Welsh and Public Affairs Director Denise Mitchell “who saw criticisms by organizers as a threat to their programs.”

“The dismissal has kicked up a firestorm of protest, and some union leaders now fear that Bensinger’s removal will set back their battles to refocus their own unions on recruitment. ‘A lot of what I’ve done I’ve taken from Bensinger,’ says Robert E. Wages, president of the Oil, Chemical … Read More ➡

Power Company Sues Union

A 2-year fight between Public Service Company of OK and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1002 is headed to court. PSO filed a complaint on Jun. 30, in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, stating that IBEW has not kept its end of a collective bargaining agreement. The suit claims IBEW, through a union manual called “The Inside Game,” has been encouraging union workers to decrease productivity, flooding employer phone lines and avoiding work when on call. PSO officials said union workers’ use of strategies contained in “The Inside Game” is a breach of the current agreement and “has caused PSO to incur substantial monetary damages.” [Tulsa World 07/01/98]

SEIU Gravediggers on Strike
Gravediggers & groundskeepers of Service Employees International Union Local 74 & 365 in NY have been in involved in a violent strike since Apr. The estimated 340 strikers walk picket lines demanding increased benefits and 18 … Read More ➡

SEIU Sues Cleveland

From a Crain’s Cleveland Business editorial [07/06/98]: “It’s hard to fathom why, after all the months of legal wrangling over the Cleveland mayor taking control of the city’s public schools, why the local NAACP chapter and a union would again file suit to block the move. Last week, lawyers for the NAACP and for the Service Employees International Union filed suit in federal court seeking to delay a law that allows Mayor White to appoint a 9-member school board and a chief executive to run the long-troubled school system. Their logic, apparently, is that since U.S. District Judge George White’s Mar. 6 ruling that such a move is constitutional is being appealed, then the takeover by the mayor should be delayed during the appeals process. I hope the judge denies the request. There has been more than enough foot dragging on this issue, and much of it seems to come … Read More ➡

New York Unions Riot

An estimated 40,000 protesters from the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, including Teamsters, Laborers, Electrical Workers and others, strangled the morning rush-hour on Jun. 30 with a militant rally and march through midtown Manhattan.

Union violence was widespread. Officially, 21 people were injured. The violence included: an attempt to turn over a parked van; punching a police horse; bottle-throwing; climbing on cars, vans and street lights; frequent bouts
of shoving and scuffling. Police, in riot gear, were forced to used nightsticks to control the unions and pepper spray before handcuffing some of the 33 union extremists that were arrested. Traffic came to a standstill and many businesses opened late due to the union fracas. It’s alleged that a larger melee is planned.

Why the uproar? The unions were upset over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority awarding a project to a non-union contractor who happened to be the … Read More ➡

UFCW Locals Lack Democracy

In a disturbing display of old-guard tactics, 2 United Food & Commercial Workers locals “elected” their leadership in unopposed elections. According to their media release, on Jul. 1, UFCW Local 1776 in Central Pennsylvania “reelected” President Wendell W. Young for the 17th consecutive time. He and his slate had no opposition and were elected by acclamation. In West Berlin, NJ, a slate of officers including UFCW Local 1360 President Clay Brown were also reelected by acclamation on Jul. 2. Their media release proudly reported: “In stark contrast to a bitterly [yet democratically] contended election three years ago,… no nominations except for the current leadership team were received.”

UPS, The Sequel?
On Jul. 9, Teamsters bosses from 39 locals representing 3,650 members announced that they had unanimously authorized a nationwide strike that would attempt to shut down 43 of Overnite Transportation Company’s 166 depots. Teamsters have been attempting to organize Overnite’s … Read More ➡

Rerun Election Funding Still Uncertain

On Jul. 6, U.S. District Judge David N. Edelstein gave U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White until Jul. 15 to attempt to secure the estimated $8.6 million for a government-supervised, Teamsters rerun election. On Jul. 1, White told Edelstein that the government needed more time to try to end the impasse the rerun funding. White also suggested that, if sufficient funds are not found, the Court should consider the possibility of either appointing a special master to supervise the balloting or ordering the Teamsters to conduct the rerun on its own without government supervision.

The impasse is due to an U.S. Appeals Court ruling forcing taxpayers to pay for the rerun. Congress passed legislation barring taxpayer funding of the rerun because nearly $20 million was wasted on the 1996 election due to the Ron Carey campaign’s scandals, and Congress, led by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), is unconvinced that safeguards are in … Read More ➡

Rep. Fawell Probes Rank-and-File’s Troubles

The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations held the second in a series of hearings Jun. 25 that could lead to reform of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959. According to Rep. Harris W. Fawell (R-IL), the purpose is to explore concerns brought to the panel’s attention by rank-and-file union members regarding “problems they are having in retaining a full, equal and democratic voice in their union affairs.” This hearing focused on the restructuring program implemented in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters following Douglas McCarron’s election as president in 1995. McCarron imposed a program to merge local unions and district councils into regional councils. Now local union members no longer elect their local officials. Instead, local union officials are appointed by regional council officials who have been elected by delegates. McCarron placed the union’s district council in NY in trusteeship in Jun. 1996. Frederick DeVine, … Read More ➡

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