In Bevona’s Wake, Corruption Questions Linger in New York

Union dissidents who helped overthrow corrupt union boss Gus Bevona as head of the Service Employees Int’l Union Local 32B-32J in N.Y. are now under fire themselves from other dissidents who claim the union’s new leadership, appointed from Washington, has co-opted them. While the new leadership has stopped the lavish spending, it has done little to restore democracy or encourage the membership to get involved in union affairs.

SEIU president Andrew L. Stern, who is himself tainted by corruption linked to the Ron Carey-Teamsters scandal, took over the Local last month after Bevona retired as part of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by dissidents. The Local is now run by Thomas Balanoff. Dissidents said they were angry because they thought that the new leadership would change the dictatorial ways of the union.

“I see Gus Bevona. He was a dictator. I see Thomas Balanoff as a benevolent dictator, so … Read More ➡

California Boss Sentenced to 21 Months

James E. Jackson, ex-boss of the Int’l Bhd. of Electrical Workers Local 45 in Hollywood, was sentenced Apr. 5 to 21 months in prison for embezzling union funds. Prosecutors allege that he embezzled over $259,000, but Jackson was also ordered to pay only $217,878 in restitution to IBEW. He pled guilty to using the union’s credit cards for unauthorized purposes from 1994-97. Jackson said he charged $1,200 to IBEW to pay for repair work done on his Mercedes-Benz and spent another $1,207 for a Caribbean cruise. He also had the union pay for auto maintenance and insurance and for his adult daughter’s health insurance. [Hollywood Reporter 4/6/99]

$212,500 Punitive Damages for Violence in Alaska
The Alaska Supreme Court affirmed an order Mar. 26 that Int’l Bhd. of Electrical Workers Local 1547 in Anchorage pay $212,500 in punitive damages to a nonunion firm for violence on picketing lines in 1986. Local … Read More ➡

Maryland AFSCME’s Mandatory Non-Member Fee Bill Stopped

Md. Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s (D) proposal for a mandatory union fee for all state employees appears defeated after a Md. House subcommittee removed it Mar. 17 from a collective bargaining bill. The controversial “agency fee” intended to compensate government employee unions for the costs of representing employees whether or not they are members. Glendening spokesman Ray Feldmann said the governor would continue to seek approval of the mandatory fee in the full committee and the Senate. But Rawlings said the frosty reaction to the compromise shows the depth of the committee’s opposition to agency fees.

The mandatory fee had been widely perceived as a reward to the Am. Fed. of State, County and Municipal Employees for its generous support of Glendening in the Nov. election. It was also portrayed as a serious threat to the Md. Classified Employees Ass’n, which supported Glendening’s opponent Ellen R. Sauerbrey. AFSCME, because it … Read More ➡

Boss Diop’s Suspension Upheld

As reported in the last issue, DC37 and Local 1549 boss Albert A. Diop was suspended, with three associates, by AFSCME for undocumented and improper expenditures of union funds. An AFSCME judicial panel upheld the suspensions Mar. 23, and Diop filed for retirement. Reportedly, he will get a $70,000 golden parachute.  More troubling however is the fact that Diop, also an AFSCME Int’l Vice-President, apparently has not be removed from AFSCME’s board.

AFSCME said that Diop used the union funds to buy personal items totaling about $467,000. He spent $82,000 on camera and audio-visual equipment, $22,000 on jewelry and $23,000 on clothing. He hired maids for his lavish penthouse at DC37’s compound for at least $1,200 a month. He spent over $162,000 for stays at N.Y. City hotels, despite residing there. Also, Diop spent $135,000 on a leased Lincoln Town Car and took a $665 monthly car allowance. [N.Y. Post … Read More ➡

Rep. Boehner Looks to Expand Landrum-Griffin to Government Employee Union

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations, opened a new round of union democracy hearings Mar. 17. The first hearing focused on extending financial reporting and other requirements of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (Landrum-Griffin Act) of 1959 to cover public-employee unions such as the scandal-ridden Am. Fed. of State, County and Municipal Employees. Testifying before subcommittees was 1) Professor Clyde Summers, Univ. of Pa. Law School, 2) Herman Benson, co-founder of the Ass’n for Union Democracy and 3) Professor Stanley Aronowitz of City Univ. of N.Y. The three stressed the necessity of the statute, while conceding that it has not always prevented abuses from occurring or stopped union officials from violating the spirit of the law, if not the letter.

Boehner said he has not decided whether he will reintroduce ex-Rep. Harris W. Fawell’s (R-Ill.) union democracy bill as … Read More ➡

Rhode Island Governor Puts Bosses above the Law

In 1995, R.I. Gov. Lincoln Almond (R) went on a campaign to get no-show state employees back to work. He publicized that his predecessor allowed 246 union bosses to spend up to 100% of their state-paid time on undocumented “union business.” Annual cost to taxpayers for the diverted time: $1.2 million. But now he is refusing to disclose the amount of state-paid time off his administration is giving union bosses unless the bosses give him permission.

The issue came to a head in response to questions about the recent promotion and $10,000 raise given to Louis Roccabello, a state-employee who spends at least 50% of each state-paid work week on business for AFSCME Dist. Council 94.

Even R.I. leftists were outraged. “The governor is elected by all the people, not just the public employee unions,” said a Common Cause spokesman. An ACLU spokesman said, “It is extremely disturbing that the … Read More ➡

Colorado Boss Guilty for Abusing Funds

The ex-president of the Denver sheriff’s union admitted Mar. 17 to using union funds at a casino and a strip club during a business trip to Las Vegas. The Denver Dist. Atty.’s Office said Joe Sanchez, ex-boss of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27, used a union debit card at a casino and a union credit card at a topless bar called Crazy Horse Too. He purchased “Crazy Horse Money,” which could only be used to tip dancers. Sanchez made full restitution of $1,180. But he wasn’t fined, sentenced to jail, sentenced to community service or ordered to pay court costs. [Denver Post 3/19/99]

FBI Raids ex-New Jersey Bosses’ Homes
FBI agents raided the homes of Frank Ginesi, ex-president of the N.J. Policemen’s Benevolent Ass’n and one of his associates, William Saksinsky, Mar. 9 as part of a two-year probe of about $500,000 in missing union funds. The Dep’t of … Read More ➡

Buffalo Boss Barred, Keeps Pension

Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union court-appointed monitor Kurt W. Muellenberg’s yet-to-be-filed report bars Buffalo boss Frank H. Ervolino from ever working for two locals he once controlled. But the retired 75-year-old is reportedly planning to stay retired. Muellenberg’s decision prohibits the payment of bonuses or salaries, but it lacks the authority to block vested pension benefits. But, the report is the first finding of guilt against Ervolino. And the decision may lead to more. Union sources say a federal grand jury investigation may have begun work on bringing criminal charges against Ervolino.

Muellenberg’s report concludes that Ervolino, his wife and his daughter embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from HERE Local 4 and AFL-CIO Hospital & Nursing Home Council from 1990-95. Both are now in trusteeship. Ervolino was also president of the Laundry & Dry Cleaners Int’l Union. The Ervolinos “knew they were receiving full-time pay for less … Read More ➡

Inquest Ordered into Kentucky Death

In the ever-expanding Ky. AFL-CIO scandal, an inquest was ordered into the death of the group’s bookkeeper Donna Bayless. On Sep. 19, her body was found, with a pistol nearby. Ky. State Police originally said suicide was the apparent cause of death. But the Anderson County Coroner’s Mar. 15 inquest announcement means that the death may have resulted from another cause. Bayless and her husband, Morgan, the Ky. AFL-CIO’s ex-political director, were among several AFL-CIO officials suspended amid embezzlement allegations. Also, records were destroyed by an apparent arson at the Ky. AFL-CIO office, and records were stolen by an apparent burglary. [Courier-Journal 3/16/99]… Read More ➡

Rhode Island Pension Fund Manager Probed

According to the Securities & Exchange Commission, the pension manager for Int’l Bhd. of Electrical Workers Local 99 in Providence, R.I., is responsible for “the biggest unauthorized diversion of funds” in New England in the last decade. Todd LaScola, the co-owner of CPA Network Advisors and owner of CPI Investment Management, has been accused of diverting at least $6 million from brokerage accounts of CPA to repay IBEW. LaScola reportedly invested $6.4 million from the pension fund in ultra-speculative promissory notes sold by a Chicago real estate developer, RBG Management Services. After the investment collapsed, he diverted money from customer accounts without permission to cover the loss. Allegedly, IBEW demanded an immediate return of the $6.4 million and after IBEW got its money back, it fired LaScola. No criminal charges or civil sanctions have been filed, but LaScola is still under investigation and his firms have been closed. [A.P. 3/15/99]… Read More ➡