Boss Gets 1 Year for Embezzlement

On Jul. 20, the U.S. District Court in Seattle sentenced Robert Kellas, former-president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 843 in Bellingham, WA, to a year and a day in prison and ordered him to pay $78,248 in restitution on top of $70,000 already paid. He will also serve 3 years of supervised release after facing a maximum of 5 years in prison. On Apr. 23, Kellas pled guilty to embezzling between $70,000 and $120,000 from Local 843 and the ATU Legislative Council of Washington State. He was president of Local 843 from 1990-97 and secretary-treasurer of the Legislative Council from 1994-97. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Kellas’ scheme was simply writing checks to himself from the 2 unions. [Seattle Times 04/24/98 & 07/21/98]

Union Corruption Studies Available
The Public Service Research Council just published 2 timely studies: “Fraud Prevalent in Prevailing Wage Surveys” & “The Case Against Public Sector … Read More ➡

Urbana Officers Ousted

The Laborers’ International Union of North America has ousted all officers of Local 703 in Urbana, IL as part of the “internal reform effort” which is part of the controversial Operating Agreement between LIUNA and the government allowing LIUNA to “reform” itself. Officials alleged that the local’s officers failed to comply with orders for new elections and misspent union money. The action was facilitated by Robert D. Luskin, LIUNA’s in-house prosecutor; however, recent questions about his qualifications and possible conflicts of interest raise concerns about Luskin’s objectivity in the matter. [AP 07/03/98]

Hate-Crime Case May Expand
When 3 white youths were accused of brutally beating a black 13-year-old who had ventured into a mostly white Chicago neighborhood, the criminal case seemed clear. Even President Clinton spoke of the “savage, senseless assault driven by nothing but hate.” 16 months later, prosecutors are struggling to bringing a case to trial. The case … Read More ➡

Kickback Scheme sends 4 to Prison

The former head of the NYC transit police union and top union lawyers were sentenced to prison on Jun. 30 for their roles in a kickback scheme involving millions of dollars in union funds. Ronald Reale, the former union boss, was sentenced to 7 years, and Richard Hartman, a leading negotiator for the union, was sentenced to 5 years. They were convicted for a racketeering conspiracy that involved the payment of more than $400,000 in bribes to transit union officers in return for more than $2 million in union money paid to the law firm of Lysaght & Kramer, which represented the transit union and other local police unions. The former sole partners in the law firm, James J. Lysaght and Peter Kramer were sentenced to 27 months each. Although the charges involved the transit police union, the lawyers and Hartman had also worked for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which … Read More ➡

Chaos continues in Puerto Rico

Waves of terrorism and sabotage have continued to plague Puerto Rico since Jun. 18 when the 2 telephone unions went on strike protesting privatization of their company. As reported in the last UCU , violence, destruction of infrastructure, bombings, injuries & arrests have been widespread.

The strike expanded on Jul. 7 when 500,000 members from 50 unions went on a general strike for 48 hours. In San Juan, several thousand union extremists faced-off with 200 riot police. Again saboteurs disconnected telephone
service to 500,000 homes and businesses. Much of the thriving tourism industry has been shut down and the airport was at standstill. Protesters ran through streets smashing windows of the Banco Popular that is connected to the
privatization.

Sadly, union bosses in the U.S. could not resist giving their support to violence. AFL-CIO president John J. Sweeney and Communications Workers of America president Morton Bahr issued statements of support … Read More ➡

Ickes Ready, Willing & Able

Harold M. Ickes, former Clinton deputy chief of staff and long-time alleged union/mob lawyer, who is thought by many to be at the center of the Clinton-Gore campaign fundraising scandals, recently started his own lobbying firm by opening the Washington office of his former NY law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein. He is now reaping as much as $20,000 a month per client which includes the American Federation of Teachers, Service Employees’ International Union along with SEIU’s powerful affiliate, NY Local 1199 of the hospital workers’ union. Ickes has access into the AFL-CIO and helped with the campaign to defeat California’s Proposition 226. Now, he is trying to convince AFL-CIO boss John J. Sweeney into letting him represent the AFL-CIO. ”I expect we’ll cut a deal soon,” said Ickes. Yet controversies dog Ickes. On top of numerous Clinton-Gore fundraising probes, he has been implicated in the Teamsters mess. “As … 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 ➡

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