In film, TV and radio, a “residual” is a payment to the creator of a piece of work beyond the original screening or airing. Typically, the union distributes the money, once received from the studio. The production company gets 80 percent of the fees; the performers and supporting crew collect the other 20 percent. All this assumes the union administrator will forward the money. Michelle Dancy apparently doesn’t like that part. On May 21, Dancy, former office manager with the Residuals Estates and Trust Department of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with four counts of embezzlement from the Los Angeles-based union totaling at least $54,109 and five counts of false identification in connection with the alleged thefts. The charges follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General leading … Read More ➡
On May 21, Dennis Fuston, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 545, was sentenced in the Buchanan County (Missouri) Circuit Court to five years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution to the St. Joseph, Mo.-based union in the amount of $23,768 and a $25 assessment. Fuston had pleaded guilty in April to theft after being charged in February. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Richard Wayne Johnson may have thought his union wouldn’t find him out. He guessed wrong. This Tuesday, June 2, Johnson, formerly secretary-treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433 and a bus driver for Valley Transit, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona to embezzlement, fraud and forgery in an amount of nearly $275,000 from the union, which represents thousands of bus, para-transit and light rail operators in the Phoenix metro area. He faces 16 years in prison at his sentencing hearing in August.
Johnson served as a union official from 2005 until January 2012. Shortly after assuming his post, funds started disappearing. A fellow bus driver, Hayden Scheider, who worked side by side with Johnson, became suspicious. “I started calling around to the Labor Department and other people to find out what was going on with our financial reports,” he said. In the fall of … Read More ➡
On May 7, Marcia Shull, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 661, pleaded guilty in Hancock County, Indiana Circuit Court to one count of felony forgery. She had been charged last September with theft and forgery of an unspecified sum from the Greenfield, Ind.-based union after a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On May 11, Aide Spade, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 709, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to three years of probation for making false statements in financial records of the Littleton (suburban Denver)-based union to conceal her thefts. She also was ordered to pay $14,234 in restitution on top of the $44,935 in restitution she already paid, plus a $5,000 fine. Spade had pleaded guilty to one count of concealment in October after being indicted on four counts in June. AFGE Local 709 represents Colorado prison system employees. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡
If any one state stands out in the race to the bottom of public employee pension insolvency, Illinois would be it. And GOP Governor Bruce Rauner is steeling himself to prevent a collapse. Rauner, a former private equity fund manager, was elected last November over Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. He faces $111 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, or about $8,500 per resident. The years of greed, corruption and bad luck having taken a toll, the governor and his top fiscal policy adviser, Donna Arduin, have proposed tough measures to reverse course. So far, they haven’t won any friends among public-sector unions – or the Illinois Supreme Court, which on May 8 sided with the unions in invalidating reforms enacted in late 2013.
State-sponsored pension systems across the nation are facing a solvency crisis despite the recovery of the stock market since the 2008 crash. Numerous studies have indicated as … Read More ➡
Jesse Morgan used to head a union that represented county jail employees. Now he’s set to become a federal prison inmate. On May 11, Morgan, formerly president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1707 in Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to 21 months in prison for defrauding the union, which represents employees of the Jackson County Detention Center. He had pleaded guilty in October 2014 after being indicted that February. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Morgan, now 39, headed the local during 2008-12. Unfortunately, he spent much of that time stealing from it. Federal prosecutors had alleged that he used union funds to pay for personal expenses via unauthorized wire transfers, checks, ATM withdrawals and counter withdrawals. An internal audit uncovered more than $185,000 in missing … Read More ➡
Leonard Bridge II found a variety of ways to rip off his union. But during the next year he’s not likely to find much of a variety in anything. On May 4, Bridge, former business manager for International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 131, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico to 12 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling more than $140,000 from the Albuquerque union. He had been indicted in February 2014, and pleaded guilty to one of 20 counts in September following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Prosecutors had alleged that Bridge, now 45, a resident of Albuquerque, during April 2009-August 2011 on 20 separate occasions diverted a combined $140,877.56 for unauthorized purposes. He did this by writing unauthorized checks, making cash withdrawals from the union bank account and … Read More ➡
The current leadership of Communications Workers of America Local 84555 might not be stealing funds, but they are inviting suspicion all the same, especially from the U.S. Department of Labor. On April 28, the DOL filed a complaint in Detroit federal court against the Durand, Mich.-based union, claiming it has been repeatedly and excessively late in filing required annual financial statements to its Office of Labor-Management Standards. The fiscal year 2014 report, for example, was due last June 29 yet has not been sent. The nearly 200-member local has not issued a response.
CWA Local 84555 is no stranger to corruption. As this publication noted slightly less than two years ago, former President James Killingsworth and his wife, Secretary-Treasurer Billie Jo Killingsworth, were sentenced to six months in prison and three months of supervised release for embezzling more than $19,000 in funds from the union, then based in … Read More ➡
Two and a half years ago, the International Longshoremen's Association was digging in for a strike that could have crippled shipping along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The strike didn't happen. Yet the union power that led to the impasse remains. The Manhattan Institute has some ideas about how to avert future such showdowns. Last month it published a paper, “Held Hostage: U.S. Ports, Labor Unrest, and the Threat to National Commerce,” arguing that strikes and slowdowns, or the threat of them, impose high costs. Written by Institute Senior Fellow Diana Furchtgott-Roth, the report cites federal labor law as the main culprit, concluding Congress should shift responsibility for collective bargaining oversight from the National Labor Relations Board to the National Mediation Board.