Feds Release Teamsters from Oversight, But Is Corruption Really Gone?

James Hoffa, Jr.This past January 14, the Justice Department and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters reached an agreement to end a quarter-century of federal oversight. Prosecutors believe a new era is overdue. "While threats persist, the organized crime influence the government found to have reached the highest echelons of IBT leadership in 1988 has long been expunged," announced Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The deal, set for a hearing on February 11 before District Chief Judge Loretta Preska, phases in an autonomy plan over five years and institutes safeguards against corruption. Yet the sincerity of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa's commitment to reform is open to question. The union, a favor factory for Hoffa and his allies, may become even more of one when full autonomy does arrive.

The settlement, spelled out in the U.S. Attorney's Office statement, calls for the union to appoint independent officers … Read More ➡

Railroad Workers Secretary-Treasurer in Kansas Sentenced

blet-logoOn January 5, Dale Hull, formerly secretary-treasurer for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 261, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution, for embezzling funds from the Herington, Kan.-based union, a Teamsters affiliate. He had pleaded guilty in September after being charged in July. Hull admitted that starting in 2008 he made unauthorized account transfers from the union account to a personal checking account and then concealed the thefts on financial reporting forms. The union represents Union Pacific Railroad employees in Herington and Salina. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

President of Michigan Retail Workers Local Charged with Embezzlement

Retail Workers Union logoOn December 11, Edward Feld, former president of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 374, was charged in the 10th District Court of Calhoun County, Michigan, with one count of felony embezzlement from the Battle Creek union in an amount of at least $1,000 but less than $20,000. RWDSU is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

SE Virginia Letter Carriers Local Secretary-Treasurer Charged; Pleads Guilty

letter carriers logoOn December 17, Choi Hawks, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of embezzling $10,744 from the Chesapeake, Va.-based union after being charged on November 14. The charge and guilty plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

CWA Secretary-Treasurer in Dallas Admits to Embezzlement

Communications Workers logoSharon Ratcliff had a lot of expenses to cover. Unfortunately, she used her union as a personal bank. On November 14, Ratcliff, formerly secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 6150, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas with embezzling more than $75,000 in funds from the Dallas-based union. Six days later, on November 20, she filed a factual resume with the court, effectively pleading guilty. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Under the rules of CWA Local 6150, which represents about 150 area AT&T employees, only three union officials have access to its checkbook and two of them must give signed approval for any payments. Starting in August 2008, Sharon Ratcliff, allegedly in need of money, withdrew it without authorization by rubber-stamping the president’s signature without permission. She used the money to pay household bills and medication, although … Read More ➡

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

If the year 2014 had a main theme, it was, as in 2013, the unions’ pursuit of legal advantage. The results were mixed. Unions scored victories at the National Labor Relations Board, but they tasted defeat in the courts, most notably in their effort to unionize private home care providers in Illinois and overturn a Wisconsin law reining in public-sector costs. In another bitter pill, the United Auto Workers last February lost a representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. As for dipping their hands in tills, national union leaders generally behaved themselves, but many local bosses, office employees and business agents did not. A suit by dissidents against a Los Angeles-area Operating Engineers local revealed first-term Obama Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and its bosses and associates, to have ethically-challenged pasts. Whether successful or not, then, unions once again provided much to write about.

The National Labor Relations Board, … Read More ➡

Locomotive Engineers Secretary in Tennessee Sentenced

STEAM LOCOMOTIVEReda Overton isn’t likely to be feeling well in the near future. On November 10, Overton, former executive secretary to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), General Committee of Adjustment 4-175, a Teamsters affiliate, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee to 18 months of imprisonment and three months of probation for embezzling $206,056 from the Tennessee office of the Kentucky-based union. She also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 assessment.

Federal prosecutors had alleged that during the period December 2008-March 2012, Overton on a number of occasions diverted funds from her office to her own personal use. The union, which represents employees of Norfolk Southern Railway, eventually reported the missing money to the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Overton left her job in June 2012. She eventually pleaded guilty last May after being charged in February. Her … Read More ➡

Ex-AFGE President in El Paso Indicted for Theft

afge logo_0On December 10, Paul Florez, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3922, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas with intent to steal property in the amount of $59,709. The union represents VA Hospital employees in El Paso. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Washington, D.C. Security Professionals Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced

spfpaOn November 25, Milton Hilliard, former secretary-treasurer of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America Local 287, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 180 days of home confinement with electronic monitoring and three years of probation for embezzling $34,612 from the Washington, D.C. union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution plus a $4,000 fine. Hilliard had pleaded guilty in August after being indicted in July. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

NLRB Issues Final ‘Ambush Election’ Rule; Employer Groups File Suit

The National Labor Relations Board lately appears to believe that if an aspect of labor law isn’t broke, fix it anyway. Unions certainly are comfortable with that. On December 15, the NLRB published a final rule that would dramatically shorten the duration between a union’s filing of a petition to represent workers and the holding of a vote. This ‘ambush’ or ‘quickie’ election rule, under the guise of promoting fairness and efficiency, would throw roadblocks in front of an employer seeking to respond to union organizer arguments. The board issued its preliminary rule last February after a Washington, D.C. federal court in May 2012 had struck down a similar mandate on procedural grounds. Last Monday, January 5, a coalition of trade groups filed suit to block the rule, set to take effect on April 14. As before, at stake is the right of workers to choose whether to belong to … Read More ➡

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