Rep. Harris W. Fawell (R-Ill.) announced Sep. 24 that he will introduce legislation to amend the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act prior to the adjournment of Congress next month. Fawell, Chairman of the Employer-Employee Relations Subcommittee of the Workforce Committee, said during the latest in a series of hearings on “impediments to union democracy” that he has come to the conclusion that the “goals” of the 1959 law, also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, “are not always reached.” The proposed legislation that is largely based on the recommendations of two leading experts on union democracy, Prof. Clyde Summers of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Herman Benson, founder of the Association for Union Democracy, who both testified at earlier hearings of the subcommittee. Fawell’s announcement came as he opened a hearing into charges that the rights of members of the approximately 200-member American Radio Association are being violated. … Read More ➡
U.S. Dist. Judge Royce Lamberth ruled Oct. 1 that the Communications Workers of America failed to inform about 50,000 affiliated workers that they didn’t have to pay full dues. Workers who pay a fee to the union for collective bargaining representation but don’t become full union members were awarded damages in the class-action suit sponsored by the National Right to Work Foundation. Any of the workers who didn’t want to pay for work the union did outside of collective bargaining, such as political advocacy, from 1987-95 can request reimbursement for a portion of their dues. A NRTW foundation spokesman Stefan Gleason called Lamberth’s ruling a “monumental decision on behalf of workers across the country. Not only will it allow these abused workers to exercise their rights not to pay for union activities that they object to in the future, but it will also allow them to be reimbursed for the … Read More ➡
An audit of the Kentucky AFL-CIO sparked by member union complaints of corruption has turned the Ky. AFL-CIO upside down: so much so that it had to cancel its state convention last week. Notice of the national AFL-CIO’s audit arrived in Frankfort on Sep. 15. That day, Donna Bayless, the Ky. AFL-CIO’s bookkeeper at the center of the corruption allegations, was reported missing. She was found dead Sep. 19, an apparent suicide. She was found in a secluded wooded area owned by her family. Police said Bayless died of a single gunshot wound in the side of her head and a pistol was found near her body.
Police are investigating an Aug. break-in at the Ky. AFL-CIO HQ in which records were stolen and a Sep. 4 fire. The fire did minimal damage but destroyed union records and is considered an arson. Bayless disappeared the same day police went to … Read More ➡
A Chicago Teamsters boss was indicted Sep. 17 for taking $16,000 in bribes from a mole of an federal investigation called Operation Silver Shovel. The mole, John Christopher, attempted to bribe the boss to overlook his financial obligations to Local 786. The local’s president from 1982-97, Walter Hoff, allegedly accepted two payoffs. Hoff is the 17th defendant charged in the ongoing investigation, but the first defendant named in 10 months, and the first union figure implicated in what has been mostly a public corruption probe.
“Labor union officials are supposed to bargain with employers at arm’s length, not with their hands in each other’s pockets,” said U.S. Atty. Scott Lassar. “The defendant allegedly placed his own financial interest ahead of his
duty to protect the interests of the workers whom he represented.”
Hoff is charged with 9 counts of fraud, labor racketeering and tax evasion. Prosecutors said that one payoff … Read More ➡
U.S. Dist. Judge David N. Edelstein approved Sep. 14 an new timetable for the Teamsters rerun election. Members will vote Nov. 2-Dec. 3., and counting begins Dec. 3. The reason for the delay: the $538,000 money-laundering schemes employed by the disgraced and expelled president, Ron Carey’ campaign. Taxpayers have been forced to contribute $4 million to the rerun’s monitoring cost after paying nearly $20 million for the failed monitoring of the 1996 election. The corrupt union reluctantly agreed to pay $2 million. This is $2.6 million short of the $8.6 million originally requested. The savings will come from limiting protest processes and substituting electronic devices for security guards at the ballot counting. [BNA 9/16/98]
Texas Boss Gets 51 Months for Theft
A Houston Teamsters boss was sentenced Aug. 31 to 51 months in prison for using union funds for personal items such as underwear and monogrammed luggage. Richard … Read More ➡
According to the Ohio auditor’s office, the president of the Am. Fed. of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3984 owes Ohio $8,217 that she admitted stealing last year while working in the Butler Co. Clerk of Courts office. Lori Lutes, who is also a motor-vehicle dep’t bookkeeper, pled guilty in Jul. to “theft in office,” a felony. [Cincinnati Enquirer 9/10/98]
LIUNA Boss Accused of Harassment
Two female construction workers who alleged that a union boss demanded sex for job assignments have won probable cause findings from the Mass. Comm’n Against Discrimination. Ruth Ann Niemeyer and Pamela J. Corey alleged James M. Porter, LIUNA Local 243 business manager, made the women perform sex in return for work. Winning the Sep. 3 decision was the women’s first legal hurdle. Despite complaining about Porter’s behavior, LIUNA refused to take action. The alleged actions are quite sick. Niemeyer alleges Porter forced her … Read More ➡
The election of president of central California’s largest union “has been a cakewalk” for Don Hunsucker for nearly the past two decades, but fellow United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1288 member, Candelaria Arroyo, could change that in this month’s election. Arroyo has blasted Hunsucker and his staff for their lavish expense accounts, but stopped short directly criticizing Hunsucker for his $120,000 a year base salary. Hunsucker has been Local 1288’s boss for 20 years and has run unchallenged in every election since 1981. “There are some people who have been in office for so long that they’ve forgotten about the working people,” Arroyo said. [Fresno Bee 9/7/98]
Boston Bosses Monitored for Unfair Practices
The Service Employees Int’l Union has begun monitoring Boston’s SEIU Local 254 following a hearing last spring on allegations that the Local unfairly represented members. SEIU spokeswoman Jill Gallagher confirmed Sep. 16 that Thomas Balanoff … Read More ➡
A contract employee for the U.S. Labor Dep’t and a co-conspirator embezzled over $500,000 from DOL’s Division of Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation. Jennifer M. Spraitz and Rachel Lea Gratton pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and theft from a federal program. The Division administers compensation benefits, medical payments and vocational rehabilitation services to injured workers and is funded by the federal government and private employers. Spraitz created false vocational rehabilitation counselor invoices, making up the names of allegedly injured workers who were supposedly receiving services she listed on the invoices. Spraitz used Gratton’s name as the fictitious rehabilitation counselor on the invoices and listed addresses that were under their control. From Oct. 1993 to Nov. 1997, Spraitz submitted 150 fraudulent invoices which generated government checks totaling $524,722. Spraitz retrieved the checks for Gratton who then returned personal checks for half the amount to Spraitz. Both used the … Read More ➡
Frustrated by over 135 illegal union actions that have continually idled West Coast ports since 1996, the Pacific Maritime Assn. is seeking a court order to prevent dockworkers from violating contract provisions prohibiting strikes and slowdowns. PMA filed suit Sep. 11 in U.S. Dist. Court in L.A. to halt an alarming trend of improper walkouts, demonstrations and stoppages that have cost shippers and consumers tens of millions of dollars.
“Illegal slowdowns, gimmicks and games have become daily fare for the [Int’l] Longshore & Warehouse Union,” the suit states. “[M]illions of dollars are lost each week by the ILWU’s contemptuous behavior.” Named defendants include ILWU, Locals 13 in L.A. and Local 63 in Long Beach. The suit doesn’t seek financial damages. Instead, PMA attorneys want a permanent injunction to force ILWU to comply with existing contracts. The suit cites seven major work stoppages that were deemed illegal by arbitration authorities.
The … Read More ➡
From Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel’s Sep. 10 editorial: “Unionized longshoremen are making a serious and disruptive mistake by trying to block criminal background checks at Port Everglades. Local 1526 of [ILWU] had ample time to protest specifics of the security measure before it was agreed on, and evidently said during earlier discussions it wouldn’t oppose the checks. Now, late in the process, the union is filing a federal lawsuit. The unacceptable result could well be to enhance and prolong the flow of illegal drugs through the port and into Florida’s streets.
This issue is about cocaine, heroin and marijuana in large quantities being smuggled through the Broward County port. For years, the port has been a sieve and therefore a favorite destination of drug smugglers who bring narcotics here from Colombia, usually with stops in the Caribbean.
One reason for the easy path through Port Everglades has been the disturbing number … Read More ➡