California Court Says Farm Worker Ballots Must Be Counted

Counting votes shouldn’t be a tall order for a union, even for the highly reluctant United Farm Workers. But the union now must change its ways. Last Wednesday, May 30, a California appeals court ruled 3-0 that the state’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board must count votes cast in 2013 by employees of a large grower, Gerawan Farming Co., over whether to decertify the union as its bargaining agent. The “nonpartisan” ALRB, the UFW’s de facto partner, had impounded the ballots. According to the court, the board’s allegations of unfair labor practices by Gerawan were “unsupported by the record as a whole.” The UFW vows to appeal the case to the State Supreme Court while continuing to collect dues payments and giving back nothing in return.

When it comes to using the political system to protect and expand economic turf, the United Farm Workers has few rivals in organized labor. The … Read More ➡

Trump Executive Order Curbs Federal Employee Union ‘Official Time’ Abuse

Employers have a right to insist that employees limit the amount of time they may devote to conducting union business during work hours. President Trump thinks this principle should apply to the unions that represent people who work in federal agencies. Last Friday, May 25, Trump issued an executive order designed to curtail on-the-job union activity. Federal employees now may spend no more than 25 percent of a work day on such matters. Administration officials estimate the move will save taxpayers at least $100 million a year. The executive order was one of three issued that day to improve accountability within the civil service bureaucracy. Federal employee unions and their allies on Capitol Hill, predictably, are outraged.

National Legal and Policy Center more than once has examined the issue of federal employees collecting pay while on union or “official” time. Back in December 2012, this became a leading issue for … Read More ➡

Steelworkers Local Secretary in Washington State Sentenced

Jason Richard sought leniency. And he got it – up to a point. On April 12, Richard, formerly secretary-treasurer for United Steelworkers Local 12-990, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to six months in prison and two years of supervised release for embezzling more than $40,000 in funds from the Wallula union. He also will have to pay residual restitution. The union represents workers at the Boise paper mill near Pasco operated by The Packaging Corporation of America. Richard had pleaded guilty last December following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Richard, now 42, became a union official in December 2014. It didn’t take long for him to raid local coffers. According to prosecutors, during January-October 2015 he wrote himself four unauthorized union checks, and also made 74 debit card purchases and 25 balance transfers for personal use. Other … Read More ➡

Plasterers Business Manager in Rhode Island Sentenced for $300K+ Scam

On May 11, Richard D’Antuono, former business manager and financial secretary for Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons International Association Local 40, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island to three years of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling a combined $319,795 in funds from the Cranston-based union and a related benefit plan, forging the signatures of other union officials in the process. He also was ordered to pay full restitution plus a $300 special assessment. D’Antuono had pleaded guilty in January after being charged last November. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.… Read More ➡

Machinists Secretary in Los Angeles Sentenced for Records Fraud

On May 14, Maria Nunez, former office secretary for International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 1484, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to two years of probation for making false statements in the financial records of the Wilmington, Calif. (Los Angeles Harbor area) union. She also was ordered to pay $4,868.50 in restitution and a $25 assessment. Nunez had pleaded guilty in January following a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

 … Read More ➡

Southern Illinois Teamster President, Secretary Plead Guilty to Thefts

On May 17, Scott and Nancy Alexander, respectively, ex-president and secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 50, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to one count each of embezzlement and wire fraud from the Belleville, Ill. union. During January 2012-June 2016, alleged prosecutors, the husband-wife couple made about $6,500 in unauthorized purchases with a union credit card, manipulated the payroll, collected vacation pay while at work and received excessive auto allowance reimbursements. After receiving tips from within the union about such activity, the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards conducted a probe. That in turn led to indictments last June. Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa already had imposed a trusteeship on the local in July 2016.… Read More ➡

IATSE Secretary-Treasurer in Virginia Charged with Theft

On May 11, Christopher Mulhall, former secretary-treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 264, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in a criminal information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzlement in the amount of $57,310.03 from the Hampton, Va.-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

Congress Probes $200 Million Annual Union Medicaid Scam

To organized labor, they’re called dues payments. To some members of Congress, they’re called acts of theft. The critics may be right. During the past several weeks, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs has been conducting oversight on why Medicaid, a program now consuming well over a half-trillion dollars a year in federal and state taxes, is costing so much. One reason is that unions now skim an estimated $200 million a year from the program, having been granted the authority by more than a dozen states to reclassify home health care workers, including family caregivers, as government employees. This practice undermines statutory intent and a Supreme Court ruling four years ago. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., for one, is demanding some answers from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Medicaid is by far the nation’s largest means-tested anti-poverty program. Passed by Congress and signed by President … Read More ➡

Convicted Benefits Manager of Alabama Iron Workers Local Barred from Union Activity

Brandi Stephens thought she was too clever to be caught. It was a poor guess. This past Tuesday, May 15, the U.S. Department of Labor announced it had entered into a consent agreement with Stephens, former administrator for the welfare and pension plan of the Birmingham, Ala.-based Iron Workers Local 92, that barred her from acting in any capacity on behalf of the plan. This past December, in a separate criminal case, she had been sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to six months of home confinement and five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $45,896 in restitution. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, Stephens operated a variety of schemes. She altered her paychecks by increasing the amount due to her; diverted additional payroll and expense account checks by substituting her name for … Read More ➡

Plumbers Benefit Plan Lawyer in Pennsylvania Indicted for Hiding Documents

Benefit managers for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 520 may have been corrupt, but Charles W. Johnston wasn’t about to help anyone get to the bottom of it all. On April 12, a U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania indicted Johnson, the Harrisburg union’s legal counsel, for withholding and concealing documents related to allegations of pension plan corruption made by a third party, PATH Administrators, against a previous administrator. The indictment, unsealed on May 7, follows an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, Johnston, now 70, a resident of Camp Hill, Pa., during the period August 28, 2014-May 1, 2015, acted in his capacity as counsel for Plumbers Local 520 to thwart a probe that might have revealed whether mismanagement and fraud at the local pension plan had … Read More ➡