A 1973 Supreme Court decision effectively made vandalism, assault and even murder by union officials exempt from federal anti-extortion law, and “the result has been an epidemic of union-related violence,” according to a new study from the Cato Institute (www.cato.org). In “Freedom from Union Violence,” author David Kendrick traces the history of labor law and union violence during the 20th century, beginning with the notorious case of a former Idaho governor murdered in 1905 by union mine workers who felt he had betrayed them by calling in federal troops during a strike.
In 1946 Congress passed the Hobbs Act, aimed at a wide spectrum of union violence. Among other things, it defined criminal extortion as “the obtaining of property . . . by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence or fear [emphasis added].” In using the word “wrongful,” Kendrick says, “Congress left a narrow opening through which the … Read More ➡
Food service workers at the Cleveland Indian’s Jacob’s Field rejected union representation Sep. 11, handing the local union bosses a high-profile defeat. The voting ended just minutes before the start of the Indians’s game and a mere 37% of Cleveland Sportservice employees voted to join Local 10 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. Sandy Golden, a commissary worker, said, “I don’t have any complaints about the way things are now. I feel my wages are fair, and I’m treated respectfully.” Historically, HERE is one of America’s most corrupt unions, and Cleveland has been the home of some of the most corrupt locals in America. [Plain Dealer 9/12/98]… Read More ➡
A former boss of the Service Employees Int’l Union used union members dues for personal trips to Disney World and London. The former head of the SEIU local in Boyton Beach, Fla., Wanda Stimpson, was sentenced Sep. 4 to 5 months in prison for embezzling $120,000 from the union for her vacations. Federal prosecutors said she altered checks to conceal her scheme. The SEIU boss also was sentenced to 5 months of home detention and 2 years of probation. There was no report of restitution. [Palm Beach Post 9/5/98]
$412K a Year Boss Sets Up Defense Fund
Reportedly America’s highest-paid union boss, Gus Bevona, who made $412,000 in 1997 as president of N.Y.’s SEIU Local 32B-32J, is in trouble. Despite his salary, Bevona is asking other union bosses to fund his latest legal defense costs. According to his lawyer’s recent letter to other bosses, he “is being victimized by … Read More ➡
The son of Edward T. Hanley, the disgraced former President of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union, has reportedly settled charges of embezzlement and misuse of union funds. Thomas Hanley has resigned as HERE’s director of organization and as president of Local 1 in Chicago. Kurt Muellenberg, HERE’s monitor under the 1995 consent agreement with the Justice Dep’t, confirmed that Hanley’s resignation was stipulated under an agreement settling various charges of misconduct. But, Muellenberg refused to give further details until U.S. Dist. Judge Garrett E. Brown has reviewed the agreement.
However, a government source familiar with the agreement told the Bureau of National Affairs that Hanley agreed to relinquish his two positions and pay a $25,000 penalty. But Hanley would be able to retain his HERE membership (thus his pension), and after Aug. 31, 1999, he could participate in HERE without restriction the source said. Hanley’s ouster comes … Read More ➡
Johnie M. Williams, former secretary-treasurer of the Am. Fed’n of Gov’t Employees Local 1199 was arrested Aug. 27 on charges that he embezzled over $72,000 from AFGE. A federal grand jury in Nev. indicted him on 162 counts of embezzlement from AFGE’s bank accounts and 3 counts of filing false financial reports with the Labor Dep’t. The 1993-96 scheme entailed checks written to cash, Williams and personal creditors. [Las Vegas Rev.-J. 8/29/98]
Md. Boss Pleads Guilty to Cover Up
John Mosley, former treasurer of AFGE Local 29 in Clinton, Md., pled guilty Aug. 24 to making false statements to the government to cover up his personal use of union funds. He controlled union finances, conducted all business in cash and maintained virtually no records from 1988 to 1996. He took around $40,000 from union coffers for his own use. Mosley faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. … Read More ➡
Two former union bosses embezzled more than $74,000 from Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Local 1-5476 in Lawndale, Cal. and were incarcerated Sep. 3 after pleading guilty Aug. 24. Former int’l rep. Kevin Geddes and secretary-treasurer Robert Redmerski filed false “lost time” claims for reimbursement. According to the Labor Dep’t, the scheme induced local stewards to file false claims and turn over union reimbursements to Geddes, and Redmerski knowingly approved and paid the false claims. Geddes was sentenced to 3 months in prison, 3 months in a halfway house and 3 years probation and was ordered to obtain substance abuse and psychiatric treatment. Redmerski was sentenced to 6 months in a halfway house and 3 years probation. Fines and restitution of union members’ lost funds were waived in exchange the for guilty pleas, as were conspiracy and extortion charges. [BNA 9/4/98]
Oregon Boss Embezzled $88K
Association of Western Pulp … Read More ➡
Before U.S. West won a tentative agreement with the Communications Workers of America on Aug. 30, the 2-week strike was marred by union violence. On Aug. 21 U.S. District Judge Stephen L. Henriod issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting CWA from threatening and intimidating people entering or leaving U.S. West buildings. The order came after the company submitted a half dozen affidavits of threats and intimidation:
- A contractor was approached at his motel by 3 people, including one who threatened to “take you out if I see you working.” The contractor said the person making the threat had a gun. Police have charged a CWA member with public intoxication and making threats with a gun in the incident.
- Militants at a rally blocked the entrance to a company parking lot.
- A company manager working to maintain service during the strike was struck in the head with a rock. His car
… Read More ➡
Asserting rising disgust with their union, nearly 100 KCAL-TV employees in L.A. have decided they no longer want to be represented by the Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers due in part to union corruption. Members petitioned the Nat’l Labor Relations Bd. Aug. 5 requesting Local 45 be removed. The petition was withdrawn, but they are still looking for alternatives. In a complaint letter to Local 45 bosses, members stated their motivation includes “the financial mismanagement of our money” and the strike fund “which we’ve paid into for years, is now non-existent, and no one from IBEW has satisfactorily answered our questions as to where the money has gone.” The corruption reference is to James E. Jackson (see: UCU 1.6 8/24/98), Local 45 business manger, who was recently indicted for allegedly embezzling over $63,000. [Daily Variety 8/25/98]
45 Days & $21K for N.Y. Boss
James T. Russo was sentenced Sept. … Read More ➡
The Am. Fed’n of State, County & Municipal Employees held its 1998 national convention in Honolulu. Aug. 24-28, and Newsday ran an excellent article demonstrating its scandalous and costly behavior. The article focused only on AFSCME locals in N.Y., so the insights gained here can be multiplied at least 50 fold.
“Undeterred by subpoenas issued in a grand-jury investigation of union spending, hundreds of officials of the city’s largest municipal union are in Hawaii…for a conference expected to cost its members $2 million to $3 million.” AFSCME District Council 37 sent nearly 800 union officials; all were staying at the Sheraton Waikiki for “$185 daily, payable by the union.” Airfare and meals will be reimbursed as well. “The ‘Aloha AFSCME’ agenda include[d] a speech…by Vice President Al Gore [and] sightseeing tours…”
In comical defense, District Council 37’s executive director, Stanley Hill told Newsday, “This is not a junket. … Read More ➡
In a clear defeat for union bosses, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Sep. 1 that Ohio may constitutionally ban public employers from administering automatic payroll deductions for political purposes. Union bosses challenged the 1995 campaign finance statute which included a ban on payroll “checkoffs.” The decision reversed a lower court ruling that the ban violated the unions’ free speech and free association rights under the First Amendment. Writing for the court, Judge Danny J. Boggs said that even the unions conceded that they had no affirmative right to wage checkoffs to support political causes. “The wage checkoff ban simply does not impinge in a constitutionally significant manner on any First Amendment rights,” Boggs wrote. The “privilege” of checkoffs was not being denied to harm or condition constitutional rights, he explained. Moreover, Ohio had an interest in “removing partisan politics from places of public employment.” [BNA 9/2/98]… Read More ➡