The Labor Department’s removal of Guess? Inc. from its list of apparel manufacturers and retailers that have voluntarily taken steps to ensure their goods are not made in sweatshop conditions drew criticism at a Jun. 19 congressional hearing. The so-called “Trendsetters List” came under scrutiny as part of an ongoing congressional review of the agency’s program administration and law enforcement efforts. At issue is whether the Labor Department acted arbitrarily in designating companies for the list, possibly running afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act.
How department officials decided which companies met its criteria for inclusion on the list was the focus of the hearing by the Education & the Workforce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations. Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA), who chaired the hearing, questioned both the agency’s decisions as to which companies to place on the list as well as its subsequent move to put Guess on “probation.”
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Protesters planted bombs, smashed bank machines and severed and burned phone cables on Jun. 25, reacting with fury to the privatization of Puerto Rico’s phone company. One bomb exploded in a policeman’s hands. The bomb, concealed in a flashlight, was planted at a branch of Banco Popular, part of a consortium buying the Puerto Rico Telephone Co. It tore a finger off the officer’s right hand and wounded his left hand and leg.
Two large unions began a financial offensive against Banco Popular. The General Workers’ Council withdrew $40 million from accounts on Jun. 25, and the Teachers Association of Puerto Rico said it transferred $100 million out of the bank. The rash of sabotage started shortly after Gov. Pedro Rossello signed a law on Jun. 24 completing the $1.9 billion sale of the phone company, known as Telefonica, to a consortium led by GTE Corp.
Being told by … Read More ➡
State AFL-CIO President John Olsen and 13 other fund trustees agreed on Jun. 10 to pay more than $2 million in restitution and another $416,000 in civil penalties. The Labor Department sued Olsen and other trustees of the CT Plumbers & Pipefitters pension fund over investments the department said were risky and led to losses of $2-3 million.
Olsen will be able to continue serving as a financial guardian of union pension funds under the terms of a settlement. The money will be paid by an insurance policy, not the trustees themselves.
In the original lawsuit, the department had asked that Olsen and the other trustees be permanently barred from serving as financial guardians to employee benefit plans. The settlement includes no such prohibition, although it does require the trustees to carefully evaluate potential risks. [Hartford Courant 06/11/98]
Longshoreman Pleads Guilty
A union dockworker pleaded guilty Jun. 12 for … Read More ➡
Rep. Harris W. Fawell (R-IL), chairman of a House subcommittee examining union abuses against members, sent letter to Laborers Int’l. Union of North America president Arthur A. Coia, warning him against acts of retaliation against individuals testifying before the committee.
Coia as long-been suspected of being under the influence of organized crime. In 1997, LIUNA’s in-house prosecutor filed charges against Coia for knowingly associating with organized crime and permitting organized crime to influence LIUNA affairs.
“We can not, and will not, tolerate any retaliation against any witness and we will take every step necessary and possible to protect them,” wrote Fawell in the May 27 letter. Stephen Manos, vice-president LIUNA Local 230 in Hartford, told the committee his Congressional testimony has “further exacerbated” acts of harassment, intimidation and retaliation against him, including a recent complaint filed in U.S. District Court by Local 230’s business manager Charles LeConche accusing him of … Read More ➡
LIUNA’s in-house prosecutor Robert D. Luskin, who is responsible for the integrity of LIUNA’s “internal reform effort,” admitted to being paid about $4 million from LIUNA since Nov. 1994 in the Jun. 7 Washington Post . It’s a rare public account of what LIUNA has paid to Luskin and his 11-lawyer firm.
$4 million over 44 months (11/94 to 06/98) equals $90,909 a month, or… $1,090,909 a year… $20,979 a week… $4,196 a day…$524 a hour (at 40 hours a week)… $8.74 a minute… all thanks to the mandatory unions dues of LIUNA members. Note too that LIUNA is not Luskin’s only client.
Laborers Fired Over Pay Questions
On May 29, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority upheld the firings of 2 LIUNA electricians at Orlando’s airport for reportedly falsifying payroll records. The records in question show the 2 collected $34,000 for over 1,500 hours of allegedly bogus overtime. LIUNA Local … Read More ➡
According to Rep. Hoekstra’s subcommittee, the bosses of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees are profiting from their members job losses due to a special industry proviso in federal labor law.
The May 27 report states UNITE receives “liquated damages” from companies for contract breaches which include relocating production overseas. UNITE treats the payments as its own since no explicit obligation exists to distribute the money to its members.
“So as contracts leave the country and UNITE’s members lose their jobs, UNITE itself continues to receive ‘a piece of the action’… Over the past few decades garment unions have lost more than half of their membership to overseas competition. Yet during that same time, UNITE and its predecessors became the richest of all unions, as measured on an assets per member basis. UNITE not only on owns the Amalgamated Bank of New York, but also owns much prime … Read More ➡
In a June 2 letter, the Developmental Disabilities Council, a New Jersey watchdog group on state policy, accused the Communications Workers of America of threatening to expose the names of group home residents who have criminal records or a history of behavior problems in order to halt the closing of state institutions for the disabled. The group’s director Ethan Ellis said, “This degrades the public images of people with developmental disabilities irreparably. It is going to take years to repair that damage.” [Bergen Co. Record 06/03/98]
Tainted Ex-President Reinstated
On June 3 in St. Louis, a U.S. District Judge had Service Employees Int’l. Union Local 50 to reinstated its ex-president William Stodghill. He was ousted from office and the union in 1996 amid allegations of wrongly spending the union’s funds for his personal expenses. Current local president Don Rudd said, “Stodghill was found guilty of improperly using members’ money at … Read More ➡
In N.Y., Lawrence Germano former associate director and executive director of Council 82 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees was indicted on Jun. 5 on federal charges of defrauding union members through a computer-consulting scam in 1993-94. The 14-count indictment included Germano’s two brothers-in-law. This same AFSCME council had four bosses ousted in 1995 for misusing about $450,000 of union funds for out-of-state trips and visits to strip bars. [Albany Times Union 06/06/98]
VP Consorting with AFSCME Boss Implicated in Teamsters Scandal
Vice-President Albert Gore, Jr. had an “unusual” close-door meeting on Jun. 5 with 3 union bosses including AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney and AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee to discuss opposition to the proposed Freedom From Government Competition Act. McEntee has been implicated in the Teamsters money-laundering scandal. According U.S. District Court records, McEntee raised $20,000 for Ron Carey’s reelection campaign which allegedly violated … Read More ➡
L.A. Police arrested 37 members of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union, many disguised in caps and gowns, for unruly demonstrations during the University of Southern California’s commencement. The demonstration was part of an on-going strike against USC. USC spokesman James Elmendorf said, “it’s extremely tragic that this group would destroy, or attempt to destroy, one of the most significant days in the lives of the students and their families.” [City News Service 05/08/98]
Herman’s Independent Council Named
Announced May 26, Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman will be investigated by Independent Counsel Ralph I. Lancaster, Jr. for an alleged swap scheme that traded campaign contributions to the DNC for favors to a business in which she had a financial interest during her time on the White House staff. Herman is the 7th top Clinton administration official to be investigated by an independent counsel over suspected criminal activity. [Washington … Read More ➡
Due to the campaign money-laundering scandal which funneled at least $538,100 into the disgraced Carey reelection campaign, Teamsters will vote this fall for a new president. On Jun. 3, U.S. District Judge David Edelstein set Oct. 14 as the date for the mail-in ballots to be tallied. The Court has already disqualified Carey from the rerun. Likely candidates for president are James P. Hoffa, Carey’s 1996 opponent, and Tom Leedham who has the support of the influential liberal-activist group, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, as well as many other Carey supporters.
Related news: Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), chairman of the House committee looking into Teamsters corruption, told the Detroit News on Jun. 9, “I don’t want the election to go forward with the conditions that exist today. I just don’t know how you can run an honest election in this environment.” His concerns are a reminder of the $20 million … Read More ➡