One Dead, Documents Stolen & Destroyed in Kentucky Probe

An audit of the Kentucky AFL-CIO sparked by member union complaints of corruption has turned the Ky. AFL-CIO upside down: so much so that it had to cancel its state convention last week. Notice of the national AFL-CIO’s audit arrived in Frankfort on Sep. 15. That day, Donna Bayless, the Ky. AFL-CIO’s bookkeeper at the center of the corruption allegations, was reported missing. She was found dead Sep. 19, an apparent suicide. She was found in a secluded wooded area owned by her family. Police said Bayless died of a single gunshot wound in the side of her head and a pistol was found near her body.

Police are investigating an Aug. break-in at the Ky. AFL-CIO HQ in which records were stolen and a Sep. 4 fire. The fire did minimal damage but destroyed union records and is considered an arson. Bayless disappeared the same day police went to … Read More ➡

Kentucky Governor Linked to Union Indictments

Kentucky Democratic Gov. Paul Patton’s two top aides and two Teamsters bosses were indicted on charges of violating campaign finance laws in Patton’s 1995 election. The special grand jury indictments were unsealed Sep. 24 by a Ky. Supreme Court order. The named were: Skipper Martin, Patton’s chief of staff and 1995 campaign manager; Danny Ross, Patton’s labor liaison who ran a pro-Patton campaign for the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO between stints on Patton’s state payroll; Lon Fields, president of Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, where Ross ran the campaign; and Robert Winstead, secretary-treasurer of Local 89 and recording secretary of the Teamsters’ state council, through which the national union paid for Ross’ campaign work. The four’s lawyers denied their clients broke the law.

Patton has denied wrongdoing, and in an act of defiance, he said that Martin and Ross would keep their state jobs, saying they were “vital to the … Read More ➡

Boss Stole $8K on the Job

According to the Ohio auditor’s office, the president of the Am. Fed. of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3984 owes Ohio $8,217 that she admitted stealing last year while working in the Butler Co. Clerk of Courts office. Lori Lutes, who is also a motor-vehicle dep’t bookkeeper, pled guilty in Jul. to “theft in office,” a felony.  [Cincinnati Enquirer 9/10/98]

LIUNA Boss Accused of Harassment
Two female construction workers who alleged that a union boss demanded sex for job assignments have won probable cause findings from the Mass. Comm’n Against Discrimination. Ruth Ann Niemeyer and Pamela J. Corey alleged James M. Porter, LIUNA Local 243 business manager, made the women perform sex in return for work. Winning the Sep. 3 decision was the women’s first legal hurdle. Despite complaining about Porter’s behavior, LIUNA refused to take action. The alleged actions are quite sick. Niemeyer alleges Porter forced her … Read More ➡

Long-time Boss’ Expenses Questioned in Cal. Election

The election of president of central California’s largest union “has been a cakewalk” for Don Hunsucker for nearly the past two decades, but fellow United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1288 member, Candelaria Arroyo, could change that in this month’s election. Arroyo has blasted Hunsucker and his staff for their lavish expense accounts, but stopped short directly criticizing Hunsucker for his $120,000 a year base salary. Hunsucker has been Local 1288’s boss for 20 years and has run unchallenged in every election since 1981. “There are some people who have been in office for so long that they’ve forgotten about the working people,” Arroyo said. [Fresno Bee 9/7/98]

Boston Bosses Monitored for Unfair Practices
The Service Employees Int’l Union has begun monitoring Boston’s SEIU Local 254 following a hearing last spring on allegations that the Local unfairly represented members.  SEIU spokeswoman Jill Gallagher confirmed Sep. 16 that Thomas Balanoff … Read More ➡

$500K Embezzled from Workers’ Compensation Fund

A contract employee for the U.S. Labor Dep’t and a co-conspirator embezzled over $500,000 from DOL’s Division of Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation. Jennifer M. Spraitz and Rachel Lea Gratton pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and theft from a federal program. The Division administers compensation benefits, medical payments and vocational rehabilitation services to injured workers and is funded by the federal government and private employers. Spraitz created false vocational rehabilitation counselor invoices, making up the names of allegedly injured workers who were supposedly receiving services she listed on the invoices. Spraitz used Gratton’s name as the fictitious rehabilitation counselor on the invoices and listed addresses that were under their control. From Oct. 1993 to Nov. 1997, Spraitz submitted 150 fraudulent invoices which generated government checks totaling $524,722. Spraitz retrieved the checks for Gratton who then returned personal checks for half the amount to Spraitz. Both used the … Read More ➡

Union Sued for Illegal Activities

Frustrated by over 135 illegal union actions that have continually idled West Coast ports since 1996, the Pacific Maritime Assn. is seeking a court order to prevent dockworkers from violating contract provisions prohibiting strikes and slowdowns. PMA filed suit Sep. 11 in U.S. Dist. Court in L.A. to halt an alarming trend of improper walkouts, demonstrations and stoppages that have cost shippers and consumers tens of millions of dollars.

“Illegal slowdowns, gimmicks and games have become daily fare for the [Int’l] Longshore & Warehouse Union,” the suit states. “[M]illions of dollars are lost each week by the ILWU’s contemptuous behavior.” Named defendants include ILWU, Locals 13 in L.A. and Local 63 in Long Beach. The suit doesn’t seek financial damages. Instead, PMA attorneys want a permanent injunction to force ILWU to comply with existing contracts. The suit cites seven major work stoppages that were deemed illegal by arbitration authorities.

The … Read More ➡

Union Sues to Block Criminal Background Checks

From Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel’s Sep. 10 editorial: “Unionized longshoremen are making a serious and disruptive mistake by trying to block criminal background checks at Port Everglades. Local 1526 of [ILWU] had ample time to protest specifics of the security measure before it was agreed on, and evidently said during earlier discussions it wouldn’t oppose the checks. Now, late in the process, the union is filing a federal lawsuit. The unacceptable result could well be to enhance and prolong the flow of illegal drugs through the port and into Florida’s streets.

This issue is about cocaine, heroin and marijuana in large quantities being smuggled through the Broward County port. For years, the port has been a sieve and therefore a favorite destination of drug smugglers who bring narcotics here from Colombia, usually with stops in the Caribbean.

One reason for the easy path through Port Everglades has been the disturbing number … Read More ➡

“Epidemic of Union Violence”

A 1973 Supreme Court decision effectively made vandalism, assault and even murder by union officials exempt from federal anti-extortion law, and “the result has been an epidemic of union-related violence,” according to a new study from the Cato Institute (www.cato.org). In “Freedom from Union Violence,” author David Kendrick traces the history of labor law and union violence during the 20th century, beginning with the notorious case of a former Idaho governor murdered in 1905 by union mine workers who felt he had betrayed them by calling in federal troops during a strike.

In 1946 Congress passed the Hobbs Act, aimed at a wide spectrum of union violence. Among other things, it defined criminal extortion as “the obtaining of property . . . by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence or fear [emphasis added].” In using the word “wrongful,” Kendrick says, “Congress left a narrow opening through which the … Read More ➡

Union Shutout in Jacob’s Field

Food service workers at the Cleveland Indian’s Jacob’s Field rejected union representation Sep. 11, handing the local union bosses a high-profile defeat. The voting ended just minutes before the start of the Indians’s game and a mere 37% of Cleveland Sportservice employees voted to join Local 10 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. Sandy Golden, a commissary worker, said, “I don’t have any complaints about the way things are now. I feel my wages are fair, and I’m treated respectfully.” Historically, HERE is one of America’s most corrupt unions, and Cleveland has been the home of some of the most corrupt locals in America. [Plain Dealer 9/12/98]… Read More ➡

Boss Took Trip to London with Members’ Funds

A former boss of the Service Employees Int’l Union used union members dues for personal trips to Disney World and London. The former head of the SEIU local in Boyton Beach, Fla., Wanda Stimpson, was sentenced Sep. 4 to 5 months in prison for embezzling $120,000 from the union for her vacations. Federal prosecutors said she altered checks to conceal her scheme. The SEIU boss also was sentenced to 5 months of home detention and 2 years of probation. There was no report of restitution. [Palm Beach Post 9/5/98]

$412K a Year Boss Sets Up Defense Fund
Reportedly America’s highest-paid union boss, Gus Bevona, who made $412,000 in 1997 as president of N.Y.’s SEIU Local 32B-32J, is in trouble. Despite his salary, Bevona is asking other union bosses to fund his latest legal defense costs. According to his lawyer’s recent letter to other bosses, he “is being victimized by … Read More ➡

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