Union Corruption Update

Mexico in Turmoil After Strike, Riot, and Charges of Corruption

Mexico never has been a paragon of political stability.  That country’s civil war (1910-20) was at least as brutal as our own, and resulted in the execution or assassination of a series of presidents.  The era of one-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that began in 1929 and ended with the election of President Vicente Fox in 2000 provided only the illusion of stability.  Its main legacy is a culture of corruption that has become next to impossible to erase.  The near future may find things getting even worse.  In fact, the aftermath of the recent and still-contested presidential election might even produce another civil war.  The situation has been exacerbated by several factors:  accusations of corruption at the nation’s steelworkers and miners union; a mine explosion in February that killed dozens of workers; and the shooting deaths of two workers at a steel mill by riot police.  The implications for pending immigration reform legislation in the U.S. could be enormous.

Virginia Ex-Local Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On August 16, Preston Nelson, formerly treasurer for National Postal Mail Handlers Local 305, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $13,547.26.  The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  (OLMS, 8/29/06).

 

Labor Department Sues California Local; Wants New Election

Special Report: How Labor Unions Embraced Antiwar Extremism

Special Report coverIn September 2006, NLPC published a Special Report titled Common Cause with America's Enemies: How Labor Unions Embraced Antiwar Extremism. Authored by Dr. Carl Horowitz, the director of NLPC’s Organized Labor Accountability Project, the report details the close relationships between union leaders and anti-war activists. Click here or on image at right to download 28-page pdf of Special Report.

According to Horowitz, “It's no secret that much of the opposition to our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is anti-American, and not simply antiwar.  Prominent self-styled ‘peace activists’ such as Cindy Sheehan, Leslie Cagan and Ramsey Clark rarely waste an opportunity to portray America as the number-one obstacle to world peace. What may be less known is the prominent role that many of the nation's labor unions have had in promoting this view.”

Twenty Indicted in Probe of Boston Terminal Payroll Scam

Boston Longshoremen don’t like people poking around into the way they do business.  It’s a world of tightly-knit Irish ethnic families where work on the docks is passed on from one generation to the next.  And if breaking the law is what it takes to make a good living, some of these people will do just that, especially if it involves group cooperation – i.e., a racket.  Cracking this kind of racket is far from easy.  But it appears that the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, with some outside help, has done just that.

 

Testimony Suggests San Jose Mayor Pressured Contractor

San Jose, California Mayor Ron Gonzales has vowed to dig in and fight charges that he’s a crook.  But the content of just-released grand jury transcripts suggests he might have little ground upon which to dig – or so say Santa Clara County prosecutors.  On August 11, transcripts from testimony given back in March by the head of a garbage contractor, Norcal Waste Systems, indicated that the mayor pressured the firm to ensure that it would hire Teamsters and not Longshoremen.  Norcal CEO Michael Sangiacomo stated that Gonzales would “do his best to make sure that Norcal was reimbursed” for having to pay higher Teamster wages; a pending agreement with a Longshoremen’s local would have enabled the City to pay lower wages.  The contract was set to begin on July 1, 2002.  While most of the 2,400 pages contained few surprises, some appeared to undermine the mayor’s contention that he did nothing out of the ordi

Boston Local Board Elects New President, Questions Remain

The outcome might not have been too surprising, but the speed at which it happened was.  On August 11, in an unexpected move, the executive board of Local 25 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, easily during the 90s and the first few years of this decade one of the IBT’s most corrupt and thuggish, elected former business agent Sean O’Brien as its new president.  O’Brien replaces Ritchie Reardon as head of the union, which had been plagued by scandals that resulted in Reardon’s predecessor, George Cashman, going to federal prison in 2003 for nearly three years for extortion and pension fraud.  As O’Brien’s father, William O’Brien, was a close ally of Cashman, the old regime appears well and alive, even if the roster has undergone some changes.

 

Ex-Local Treasurer in California Probed in Missing Funds Case

The California School Employees Association (CSEA), an AFL-CIO affiliate, represents over 230,000 bus drivers, janitors, secretaries, cafeteria workers and other public school support staff.  As the largest union of its kind in the country, some bad apples inevitably make their way into its more than 750 local chapters.  Such is the case in Tracy, a San Joaquin Valley community not far from Stockton and Modesto.  Earlier this month officials of the local CSEA chapter filed a police report claiming that the union was about $9,000 short.  The prime focus of the investigation is former treasurer and bus driver Lincy Merritt, who stepped down August 15. 

 

State Court Rules Colorado Union Made Illegal Contributions

Back in 2002, Colorado voters passed by a 2-to-1 margin an initiative called Amendment 27 to overhaul the state’s campaign finance laws.  The law bans direct corporate and union contributions to candidates and parties, and also reduces contribution ceilings to candidates and political action committees.  Voters had approved a similar measure back in 1996, only to see the Colorado legislature repeal it.  But the newer law, which can only be repealed or amended through voter approval, is being tested in the courts.  It seems to have passed muster for now.  On July 20, the state’s Court of Appeals ruled that the Denver-based Colorado Education Association (CEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association, had overstepped its bounds when it provided certain forms of help to the campaign of a state Senator still in office. 

 

New Orleans Chieftain Indicted for Submitting False Reports

On August 10, Lorraine Payton, former president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, Veterans Administration Council, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on two counts of making false reports.  Payton was accused of underreporting union income.  According to the indictment, she reported getting $11,515 from the council in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, plus another $6,000 in calendar year 2001.  Her actual incomes for the two periods, respectively, were $18,123 and $55,821, with secret payments going for checks, debit card and credit card transactions.  The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  (OLMS, 8/18/06; other sources).

 

U.S. Appeals Court Forces State Teachers Unions to Comply

For over 40 years, labor unions in this country have had to file annual reports disclosing how they raise and spend money.  These requirements are a basic, if too often insufficient, safeguard against corruption by union officials, office employees and anyone on the outside who might do business with them.  But one class of unions from the start has been exempt – purely public-sector unions.  At least that was the prevailing interpretation.  On August 1, the U.S.

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