Election Monitor Tries to Blackmail Congress

Michael G. Cherkasky, the court-appointed Teamsters election monitor sent a strongly-worded letter to U.S. District Judge David N. Edelstein on Jun. 24 threatening to end all federal supervision of the election unless the court can resolve a standoff over election funding. Cherkasky’s threats come on the heals of a major setback for taxpayers in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit refused to reconsider its Mar. 30 ruling that forces taxpayers to fund the upcoming rerun election.

Congress, led by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), passed legislation barring taxpayer funding of the rerun election because the nearly $20 million 1996 election was a disgrace and Congress is unconvinced that adequate safeguards are in place to prevent another corrupted election. The Justice Department, under Congressional pressure, has argued that the Teamsters should pay for the election. Cherkasky’s costs for the rerun is now estimated at $8.6 million which is … Read More ➡

Court Denies Hoekstra Sealed Papers

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Cornelius Blackshear has denied a request by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) for sealed documents pertaining to the bitter dispute involving Mademoiselle Knitwear, a union contractor; Liz Claiborne Inc., and UNITE. In an Jun. 8 order, Blackshear did not give a reason for his denial other than to say that his court, where Mademoiselle is in Chapter 11 proceedings, “is primarily concerned with maintaining the sanctity of the confidentiality agreement and the fidelity of the case.”
 
Hoekstra sought access to the documents as part of a congressional probe he is leading into the adequacy of U.S. labor law. A key element in the Mademoiselle controversy consists of multimillion-dollar payments made by Claiborne to UNITE under the practice of liquidated damages — penalties paid by union manufacturers to UNITE when they turn to nonunion production — and the issue of liquidated damages has become a focal point in … Read More ➡

Cherkasky’s Other Job Going Well

Cherkasky doesn’t only work for the government monitoring the Teamsters. He has remained the President & Chief Operating Officer of Kroll Associates which is part of the Kroll-O’Gara Company (NASDAQ: KROG), a worldwide private investigator & security firm based in N.Y. On Jun. 18, Cherkasky spent the day in Toronto closing a $16 million deal on Kroll’s latest acquisition of a Canadian forensic accounting firm. “It’s hard to beat them so we had to buy them… We can expand very rapidly across the world,” Cherkasky boasted to the Toronto media. The merger builds Kroll’s presence to 40 cities in 16 counties. Apparently, Cherkasky doesn’t have his hands full because he said he is looking to further expand his Moscow office’s work against burgeoning crime syndicates in Russia. [Toronto Star 06/18/98]
 
UP SHOT: How does Cherkasky have time to run his multi-million dollar business and still ensure the upcoming Teamsters … Read More ➡

Poshard & AFL-CIO Dance Around Disclosure Laws

U.S. Rep. Glenn Poshard (D-IL) has filed papers acknowledging help from a union, but he continues to deny GOP charges that he violated campaign finance disclosure laws. The Democrat’s gubernatorial campaign filed a statement with the Illinois State Board of Elections Jun. 23 disclosing the spending of $108,000 by the AFL-CIO to run radio ads boosting Poshard near the end of the primary campaign.
 
The Illinois Republican Party filed a complaint with the state board charging that Poshard failed to disclose the in-kind contribution within the required 2 business days. The GOP is claiming that Poshard’s filing of the statement is an admission that he violating the law by not filing it earlier. The federation spent more than $200,000 on radio spots for Poshard in the last 2 weeks before the Mar. 17 primary.
 
Poshard takes pride in refusing to accept donations from corporations, political action committees and … Read More ➡

The GM Strikes: An Eye-Opening Perspective

From Investor’s Business Daily’s editorial [06/22/98]: “It takes a lot of effort to put on a strike. Bodies are needed for the picket lines from dawn ’til after dusk. Somebody has to work the telephones. And the media message must be honed. That’s almost as much coordinated work as it takes to build cars. So we want to know: Why don’t members of the United Auto Workers direct their energy to making a superior product, instead of striking General Motors. There are many reasons, but one big one is that the union bosses wouldn’t like it. Workers would learn that they don’t need the union. They could earn high wages by simply turning out a car that buyers prefer…

The Flint stamping facility is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to productivity. It has about half the output per hour worked of similar GM facilities. And the … Read More ➡

Rep. Norwood Holding Program Accountable

The Labor Department’s removal of Guess? Inc. from its list of apparel manufacturers and retailers that have voluntarily taken steps to ensure their goods are not made in sweatshop conditions drew criticism at a Jun. 19 congressional hearing. The so-called “Trendsetters List” came under scrutiny as part of an ongoing congressional review of the agency’s program administration and law enforcement efforts. At issue is whether the Labor Department acted arbitrarily in designating companies for the list, possibly running afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act.
 
How department officials decided which companies met its criteria for inclusion on the list was the focus of the hearing by the Education & the Workforce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations. Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA), who chaired the hearing, questioned both the agency’s decisions as to which companies to place on the list as well as its subsequent move to put Guess on “probation.”
  … Read More ➡

Violence Ravages Puerto Rico

Protesters planted bombs, smashed bank machines and severed and burned phone cables on Jun. 25, reacting with fury to the privatization of Puerto Rico’s phone company. One bomb exploded in a policeman’s hands. The bomb, concealed in a flashlight, was planted at a branch of Banco Popular, part of a consortium buying the Puerto Rico Telephone Co. It tore a finger off the officer’s right hand and wounded his left hand and leg.

Two large unions began a financial offensive against Banco Popular. The General Workers’ Council withdrew $40 million from accounts on Jun. 25, and the Teachers Association of Puerto Rico said it transferred $100 million out of the bank. The rash of sabotage started shortly after Gov. Pedro Rossello signed a law on Jun. 24 completing the $1.9 billion sale of the phone company, known as Telefonica, to a consortium led by GTE Corp.
 
Being told by … Read More ➡

Connecticut Union Bosses Settle Case

State AFL-CIO President John Olsen and 13 other fund trustees agreed on Jun. 10 to pay more than $2 million in restitution and another $416,000 in civil penalties. The Labor Department sued Olsen and other trustees of the CT Plumbers & Pipefitters pension fund over investments the department said were risky and led to losses of $2-3 million.

Olsen will be able to continue serving as a financial guardian of union pension funds under the terms of a settlement. The money will be paid by an insurance policy, not the trustees themselves.
 
In the original lawsuit, the department had asked that Olsen and the other trustees be permanently barred from serving as financial guardians to employee benefit plans. The settlement includes no such prohibition, although it does require the trustees to carefully evaluate potential risks. [Hartford Courant 06/11/98]

Longshoreman Pleads Guilty
A union dockworker pleaded guilty Jun. 12 for … Read More ➡

Teamsters Congressional Hearings Continue

  • On Jun. 11, the court-appointed Teamsters Independent Review Board said it would “consider” investigating acting Teamsters President Tom Sever for refusing to conduct an internal probe of possible wrongdoing by top officials during Ron Carey’s administration who are still working at Teamsters HQ. IRB was responding to Rep. Hoekstra’s request for a probe into Sever. “If Mr. Sever is willfully ignoring the corruption and misuse of [Teamsters] assets and personnel, he should be held accountable,” said Hoekstra. [Detroit News 06/12/98]
  • On Jun. 15, Hoekstra subpoenaed Sever in an effort to obtain documents critical to the probe. He said the subpoena of makes Sever “personally accountable” to Congress for the release of documents that have been sought by the subcommittee since Feb. In May, Sever declined to tell the subcommittee why the union paid $250,000 to White House Counsel Charles F.C. Ruff when Ruff was a Teamsters attorney. He also refused
Read More ➡

LIUNA Radicals Loose in California

Despite a LIUNA nurse and hospital technicians strike that threaten patient health and radical leaflet propaganda, the Tenet Corporation which owns San Francisco’s Redding Medical Center was able to keep the center an “open shop.” LIUNA went on strike Jun. 4, but a federal mediator got them back to the table the next day. On Jun. 23, the union relented and although the hospital made concessions, it remains an open shop which means union membership will not be a condition of employment. [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/25/98 & Providence Journal-Bulletin 06/05/98]

Trumka & Co. Incite Radicalism
Jun. 24 was the AFL-CIO’s “Day to Make Our Voices Heard” which is the latest AFL-CIO P.R. stunt designed to incite radicalism in union members. Small protests in allegedly 70 cities were held across the country. As part of the festivities, registered nurses in Vancouver, WA left a medical center understaffed. Longshoremen shut down … Read More ➡