On October 9, Mary Grace Gossett, former office assistant for Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Local 24, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to five years of probation, and ordered to pay $41,622 in restitution and a $300 assessment, for embezzling funds from the Denver-based union. She had pleaded guilty in July after being charged in May. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
The National Labor Relations Board has changed in size and composition several times during the Obama administration, but one thing has remained constant: its pro-union majority. Labor officials lately are feeling pretty glad about that. On December 11, the NLRB ruled 3-2 that employees with access to an employer e-mail system can use that system for union organizing during "nonworking time." The ruling, Purple Communications Inc., overturns a 2007 NLRB decision, Register Guard, which held that a company has the discretion to ban non-business-related e-mail interactions among workers, including union-related ones. The board insists the impact of its newest ruling is "limited." Yet unions, especially the Communications Workers of America, see a clear victory along with an expansion of organizing opportunities. And they're probably right.
Ray Lineweber has decided to take his chances. On December 2, Lineweber, formerly political director of the United Transportation Union, Nebraska Legislative Board 30, told a federal judge in Lincoln that he would not take a deal offered by prosecutors. His statement was in response to his indictment last November for embezzling $102,907 in funds from the Omaha-based labor organization and then concealing the thefts through false-record keeping. This sets the stage for a trial in February. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On October 6, Jeffrey Jones, former president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia with one count of embezzlement from the Chesapeake, Va. union in the amount of $7,649. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
It would be an understatement to say that relations between the San Bernardino Public Employees Association (SBPEA) and its former general manager, Robert Blough, have been a lot better. On October 17, the independent union, which represents about 11,000 of 23,000 San Bernardino County, Calif. employees, filed a civil suit against Blough, alleging that he had stolen or misspent more than $700,000. The suit, filed in County Superior Court, seeks to recoup the missing money, plus associated costs. The action came two weeks after the union delivered the information to the district attorney, requesting an investigation and, if necessary, a criminal prosecution. Blough is hardly in a mood to settle. On November 20, he filed a response alleging the union was complicit in any and all illicit activity.
On December 10, Anthony Davis, former president of National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 314, a Laborers affiliate, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to one year and nine months in prison, and ordered to pay full restitution, for embezzling more than $40,000 in funds from the St. Louis-based union. He had been convicted by a jury in September after being indicted in April. Prosecutors had alleged that Davis, now 52, a resident of O'Fallon, Ill., had submitted fake invoices to the union and pocketed the reimbursements. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 30, Jerry Ragster, former president of United Auto Workers Local 3057, pleaded guilty in the 71st District Court of Harrison County, Texas to theft of $3,372 in funds from the Marshall, Tex.-based union. He made full restitution during his plea. Ragster had been indicted in November 2013 after an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. UAW Local 3057 represented employees of Dana Corp. at the auto parts supplier's Longview plant until its closure in 2012.
On September 30, Patricia Moore, former secretary-treasurer of the National Union of Protective Services Associations (NUPSA), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 150 days of home confinement and four years of supervised probation for conspiracy to commit wire fraud from NUPSA and a related Washington, D.C.-based union, the National Union of Law Enforcement Associations. She also was ordered to pay $107,346 in restitution and a $100 assessment. Moore had been charged on October 13, 2011 for defrauding the unions in the amount of $109,866.17; she pleaded guilty two weeks later. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
On September 29, Dale Hull, former secretary-treasurer for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 261, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to one count of embezzling union funds from the Herington, Kan.-based union. He had been indicted in July on five counts of embezzling more than $14,000. The guilty plea and indictment follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 22, Robert Vargeson, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 88329, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation for making false entries in financial records of the Gaines (formerly located in nearby Galeton), Pa. union to cover up theft in the amount of $6,373. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6,013. Vargeson had pleaded guilty on April 24 after being charged 10 days earlier. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.