A federal judge in Albany, N.Y. has sentenced a stockbroker on April 12 for stealing more than $400,000 from a union employee benefit fund.U.S. Senior District Judge Thomas McAvoy ordered Anthony DiPace, 47, to serve a prison term concurrent with his 2 ½ year sentence received in January 2004 on a separate conviction for mail fraud in Hawaii.
A former official of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was charged on April 13 with felony theft from that union.Chris Dehn, 36, of Portage, Wisconsin, had served as treasurer of AFSCME Local 3394, which represents workers at the state’s Columbia Correctional Institution.Prosecutors allege Dehn, while working as a guard at CCI stole $26,189.The criminal complaint said that Dehn "admitted to taking cash withdrawals from the union savings account," and "also stated that it was typical for him to get a signature from another union officer upon a blank check and Dehn would then write the rest of the check out."
Federal authorities say the Maryland State Teachers Assn. (MSTA) broke federal labor laws by "threatening and coercing" employees who sought company benefits denied by the union.According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling at the end of March, union officials must stop such unfair practices as reprimanding workers petitioning for employment benefits or job reassignments and must post notices stating that they violated labor law.
A former president of the Lawrence (Kan.) Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, was charged with stealing nearly $100,000 on March 8.Prosecutors charged Wayne Kruse, a sixth-grade teacher who had headed the local during 1999-2005, with two counts of forgery and one count of theft.
The Bush administration has been rapidly expanding its audits of labor unions.Union officials are crying foul, claiming the administration is retaliating against their overwhelming support for Senator John Kerry in last year’s presidential election.But the primary legacy of the recent ramping up of investigations may be a thorough housecleaning of union of their criminal element.
Seeking to uphold union democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Public Citizen filed suit on April 14 backing the free speech rights of a union member running for office.The suit was filed on behalf of Joseph Hughes to secure his right to speak with fellow members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
Michael Forde, head of the New York City District Council of Carpenters, has led a charmed life for the past year.On April 27, 2004, a jury found Forde and a co-defendant guilty of taking a bribe from a mob-controlled contractor.However, because of a legal technicality, he continues to run the 25,000-member union.
Robert Persico, a Scarsdale, N.Y. businessman, can add one more notch to his mob connections.Persico, 40, head of the Mount Vernon, N.Y.-based Persico Contracting and Trucking, was charged with bribing officials of Locals 14 and 15 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.Earlier, he had been indicted for conspiring with a reputed Gambino family capo, Gregory DePalma, also from Scarsdale, to extort another construction company and transport stolen luxury goods.
On March 29, 2005, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Terry Aldrich, former president of the Westfield Tanning Employees Association, was sentenced to two months in prison followed by three years probation for embezzlement. In addition, Aldrich will be subject to four months of electronic monitoring and he must pay restitution in the amount of $54,770 (payable in the minimum of $50.00 monthly installments). On September 15, 2004, Aldrich pled guilty to embezzling union funds in excess of $39,000.
The U.S. Dept. of Labor aims to toughen its regulation of Big Labor greater scrutiny of spending and hiring practices, and will continue to increase sharply the number of financial audits of individual unions, reports Dan Roberts of the London Financial Times. DOL officials say the measures are necessary to make unions more accountable to their members and to root out any corruption or mismanagement.
Despite declining membership, unions continue to be a thorn in the side of big business, orchestrating campaigns against companies such as Wal-Mart and using their influence over pension funds to press for corporate governance reform.