Nat. Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board stating that local Painters union bosses levied illegal fines of $32,500 against a worker who exercised his right to refrain from formal union membership. Officials of Painters & Allied Trades Local 1275 in Columbus levied the fines after construction worker James Ott sent two resignation letters to union officials in an attempt to resign his union membership. Local 1275 officials ignored his legal right to resign and instead held an internal union “court” and levied the fines after Ott joined another union.
“Once again, union chieftains prove that their main concern is preserving at all costs the unchecked power they wield over workers,” said NRTW’s Stefan Gleason. “There can be no doubt that this attempt to extort a worker for more money than many people make in a year will send … Read More ➡
Reforms of the mob-ridden N.Y. Dist. Council of Carpenters, launched in Jun. 1996 by the United Bhd. of Carpenters, may have been derailed. The reforms began with UBC president Douglas McCarron ousting the council’s corrupt boss, Frederick Devine, who was convicted in Aug. 1998 on embezzlement charges. Other corrupt bosses were replaced with rank-and-filers as business agents. But recently, three reformers have been fired reportedly because they did their jobs too well. “I was told I wasn’t a team player,” said reformer Mike Bilello who was fired after he removed several shop stewards for illegal work.
William Keating was told the same in Jan. by UBC supervisor Roger Newman. “He told me, ‘You’re just not on the team.’ I said, ‘I visit twice as many [construction] jobs as anyone else.’ He says, ‘There you go again, you act like you’re a superstar.'” Keating says he saw “lots of dirty deals” … Read More ➡
Top AFL-CIO and AFSCME bosses have recently threatened several Wall Street firms with pulling union pension funds from anyone who dares to suggest individuals, rather than the federal taxpayer, be allowed to invest their Social Security dollars. The union threat letters went to nine firms that manage billions in pension assets for union members: Fidelity Investments, J.P.Morgan, State Street Global Advisors, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Am. Express, Chase Manhattan, CitiGroup and Bankers Trust N.Y. [Washington Times 2/19/99]
Ickes Aids Clinton Senate Bid
Fresh off the U.S. Dep’t of Justice’s scandal heap, Harold M. Ickes has reemerged as a political handler of Hillary Clinton’s possible N.Y. Senate candidacy. On Feb. 18, Ickes reportedly began contacting N.Y. union bosses, campaign gurus and county leaders on Clinton’s behalf. On Jan. 29 Atty. Gen. Janet Reno controversially chose not to appoint an independent counsel to probe possible illegal acts by Ickes on … Read More ➡
The federal racketeering and extortion trial of three bosses of the Int’l Union of Operating Engineers Local 675 in southern Florida began Feb. 17. Ex-business manager, vice president and president of the local, Joseph R. Gagne, as well as his associates Dennis J. Walton and Roy Savigliano have allegedly kept control of the local by beating, threatening and shooting at union members and others who refused to support their control. [Palm Beach Post 2/18/99]
Hawaiian Teamsters Indicted for Arson
Two prominent members of Teamsters Local 996 in Honolulu were indicted by a federal grand jury Feb. 17 for arson. Joseph “Joe Boy” P. Tavares, Jr., was charged with conspiracy to commit arson and two counts of arson and faces 25 years in prison. George E. Cambra was charged with conspiracy to commit arson and faces 5 years. Cambra is also the owner of George Cambra Movie Production Trucks, Inc., and … Read More ➡
The union world is abuzz with the amazing news that a dissident lawsuit has ousted one of America’s highest paid union bosses. AFL-CIO boss John J. Sweeney’s successor, Gus Benova was paid well over $400,000 a year to run the Service Employee Int’l Union Local 32B-32J. On Feb. 1, Benova ended his 18 year reign that began when Sweeney was elected to head SEIU in 1981. Benova has been dogged by allegations of a lavish lifestyle, authoritarian rule and possible mob ties, but his resignation came as part of a civil suit settlement brought by dissidents Carlos Guzman and Dominick Bentivgna. [N.Y. Times, N.Y. Post 2/2/99]
Top SEIU boss Andrew L. Stern — who himself has corruption questions stemming from his role in the Teamsters money-laundering scandal — imposed an indefinite trusteeship over the local. On Feb. 8, SEIU opened Benova’s union-funded SoHo penthouse to the media. The palatially high-tech … Read More ➡
A prominent Toronto boss was beaten Jan. 29 by four or five men armed with metal bars in a daylight attack that left him with a broken arm and a gash in his head. The victim was John Stefanini, the executive director of the Residential Alliance of Building Trade Unions and ex-boss of the Laborers Int’l Union of No. Am. Local 183. A witness said moaning outside his window turned into cries for help and that Stefanini’s “head was cracked right open.” Police are looking into labor-related motives. “It’s vigilantism at its best and we would like to have it stopped,” said a police detective.
Stefanini, who lost consciousness after the beating, later refused to speculate about the attack. “I prefer not to make any comment. There’s a police investigation and I’ll leave it to them,” he said. While at LIUNA, Stefanini was also the subject of violence. FBI informant … Read More ➡
San Antonio union boss Harold Flammia was sentenced Feb. 5 to 55 months in prison and ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution for looting a taxpayer-funded police association legal fund. Asst. U.S. Atty. Chris Gober termed Flammia’s crimes as “classic influence peddling” and “a profound breach of trust.” In May, Flammia pled guilty to one count of fraud and one count of money laundering.
Flammia’s kickback scheme started in 1988, when he became president of the San Antonio Police Officers Ass’n. He negotiated a city contract that included a clause that earmarked union dues and taxpayers funds for a legal fund to aide police officers. The city paid millions of dollars into the fund, which was managed by the Combined Law Enforcement Ass’n of Tex. Flammia was CLEAT’s treasurer and later was a regional director and board member. The boss solicited kickbacks from a CLEAT attorney and in return, Flammia … Read More ➡
Michael J. Gochis was convicted Feb. 2 by federal jury on three misdemeanor counts connected to his intimidation and physical assault of Teamster Local 505 member David Bothum. During a 1995 contract settlement, Bothum spoke against a proposal. His comments drew the ire of Gochis, who threatened Bothum. After one such exchange Gochis allegedly attacked Bothum from behind and threw him to the concrete floor warehouse, fracturing Bothum’s ribs. Gochis was acquitted of battery in 1998, but federal prosecutors later charged him with violating a federal labor statute forbidding intimidation of union members who voice their views on union business. Asst. U.S. Atty. Mark Vogel said the federal charges were brought after a key witness allegedly perjured himself in the battery trial. Gochis faces 3 years in prison. [Chicago Tribune 2/4/99]
Corrupt New Jersey Local Oversight to End
Court-appointed monitor Edwin H. Stier said Feb. 5 that the notorious Teamsters … Read More ➡
Atty. Gen. Janet Reno controversially chose not to appoint an independent counsel Jan. 29 to probe possible illegal acts by ex-Clinton aide Harold M. Ickes on behalf of the Teamsters. Ickes, the Clinton Adminstration’s DNC liaison in 1996, is also a longtime union attorney whose clients have had severe corruption problems. The probe would have focused on charges of perjury and campaign finance abuses. Before the Senate’s 1997 Thompson Committee, Ickes vigorously denied that the Clinton Adminstration helped the Teamsters in a dispute with Diamond Walnut Growers. But the Committee later uncovered union memos stating Ickes had urged then-U.S. Trade Rep. Mickey Kantor to intervene, and Ickes’ aide testified that Ickes told her to make sure Kantor followed through. [A.P. 1/29/99]
Hoffa Still Not in Control
Ron Carey-loyalist, Tom Leedham, who failed in his bid to be Teamsters president last year, filed the latest review request Feb. 2 of president-elect … Read More ➡
AFSCME issued Feb. 8 the first public accounting of New York’s scandal-ridden Dist. Council 37. It confirmed dissidents’ belief that DC37 was involved in a members dues scam enabling its bosses to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses. Between 1995-98, ten bosses spent $450,000 on DC37 credit cards, but only three officials submitted any documentation. In DC37’s 1998 budget, bosses deliberately underestimated the number of dues-paying members by 8,000 to 9,000, which resulted in income of $2 million.
The report also detailed a scheme in which some of DC37’s locals made expenditures that would be paid for by DC37, but DC37 would then hold back dues money as payment for the spending. It allowed locals to engage in spending that did not show up on the local books. One example was $600,000 that Local 372 ex-president Charles Hughes took for “fraudulent overtime he claimed to have worked … Read More ➡