School Officials Not Liable for California Unions' Inadequate Financial Disclosures

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Oct. 15 that Cal. public school superintendents who deducted agency fees from the paychecks of nonmember teachers are not liable for unions' failure to provide an adequate explanation of the basis for the fee calculation. Reversing summary judgment granted to four teachers, the appeals court held "[a]ction more serious than the routine collection of fees is required" to trigger a public employer's duty to ensure that its employees receive adequate financial disclosure. The court relied on its prior holding that a public employer's duty to ensure proper notice arises when a union takes action against a nonmember for failure to pay agency fees. U.S. Dist. Judge Dean D. Pregerson (C.D. Cal., Clinton), sitting by designation, wrote the opinion, which was joined by U.S. Circuit Judges Procter R. Hug, Jr. (9th Cir., Carter)  and Thomas G. Nelson (9th Cir., H.W. Bush).

The suit originally was filed by the teachers against the teachers' unions and the corresponding school districts, alleging deprivation of constitutional rights in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. § 1983). Former U.S. Dist. Judge Charles A. Legge (N.D. Cal., Reagan) held that the unions failed to provide adequate financial disclosure and that the school superintendents had a duty to ensure that the unions complied with the notice requirement before deducting any agency fees from nonmember teachers' paychecks. The superintendents head the Ukiah Unified School District, the East Side Union High School District, the Livermore Valley Joint School District, and the New Haven Unified School District. The teachers unions, locals of the Cal. Teachers Ass'n, did not appeal a district court ruling that the unions' financial disclosures were inadequate.

Stephen P. Berzon of Altshuler, Berzon, Nussbaum, Rubin & Demain in San Francisco represented the superintendents. Milton L. Chappell of the Nat'l Right to Work Legal Def. Fdn. in Springfield, Va., represented the teachers. NRTW plans to ask the Ninth Circuit for rehearing en banc on the superintendent-liability issue. [BNA 10/23/01]


Iowa Bosses Indicted for $52,900 Embezzlement
On Mar. 23, in U.S. Dist. Court for the N. Dist. of Iowa, Steven Lathrop and Randy Kamp, ex-treasurer and president, respectively, of the Paper, Allied-Industrial Chemical & Energy Workers Int'l Union Local 07-9937 in Waterloo, Iowa,, entered guilty pleas to informations charging them with embezzling $52,997 in union funds. [Dep't of Labor 3/23/01]  UCU previously reported that Kamp pled guilty to a $4,773 union embezzlement. Kamp was accused in Feb. 2001 of stealing union funds between June-Nov. 1999. [Des Moines Reg. 3/24/01]


Missouri Boss Admits $28,100 Embezzlement
On May 11, in U.S. Dist. Court for the E. Dist. of Missouri, Roy Keith Harris, ex-financial secretary of United Steelworkers of Am  Local 11-659, entered a plea of guilty to the embezzlement of $28,123 in union funds. [Dep't of Labor 5/11/01]


New Jersey Boss Allegedly Embezzled $23,000
Stephen Burks, ex-comptroller of the Am. Fed'n of State, Country and Mun. Employees Dist. Council 71, was indicted on one count of embezzling over $23,000 in union funds on May 15 in U.S. Dist. Court for the Dist. of N.J. [Dep't of Labor 5/15/01]


Alabama Staffer Accused of $21,600 Embezzlement
On May 31, Patricia Smith, ex-office secretary for the Laborers' Alabama Dist. Council, was indicted in U.S. Dist. Court for the N. Dist. of Ala. on one count of embezzling $21,687.85 in union funds and one count of making false entries in records required to be maintained. [Dep't of Labor 5/31/01]


Alabama Boss Indicted for $12,000 Embezzlement
An indictment was returned May 31 in U.S. Dist. Court for the N. Dist. of Ala. charging Eugene Wilkinson, ex-financial secretary of United Mine Workers Local 7154 in Jasper, Ala., with one count of embezzling $12,024.89 in union funds and one count of false reporting of union records. [Dep't of Labor 5/31/01]


Illinois Boss Admits $10,000 Embezzlement
Robert Comerford, ex-treasurer of the Nat'l Ass'n of Letter Carriers Branch 31 in Peoria, Ill., pled guilty Mar. 20 in U.S. Dist. Court for the Cent. Dist. of Illinois, to one count of embezzling in excess of $10,000 in union funds. [Dep't of Labor 3/20/01]


Kansas Boss Falsified Records to Cover $8,000 Embezzlement
Ex-business manager of the Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers Local 1523 in Wichita, Kan., Britt Commons, pled guilty May 4 to falsifying union records to conceal an embezzlement of $8,025 in union funds in U.S. Dist. Court for the Dist. of Kansas. [Dep't of Labor 5/4/01]


Hawaiian Boss Pleads Guilty to Union Corruption
In U.S. Dist. Court for the Dist. of Hawaii, Glenn A. Reys, Sr., ex-secretary-treasurer of the Nat'l Ass'n of Letter Carriers Branch 4644, pled guilty May 14 to one count of embezzling $2,000 in union funds and one count of filing a false labor organization annual report, Form LM-4.  Reys was indicted by federal grand jury on five counts of union embezzlement. The indictment alleged that he stole approximately $ 5,000 from the branch. The false report charge reportedly result from his statement that the branch did not pay its officers between 1995 and 1997. [Dep't of Labor 5/14/01; Pacific Employment Letter 5/01]


Alabama Bosses Admit Recordkeeping Failure
On Mar. 26, in U.S. Dist. Court for the S. Dist. of Alabama, Frederick M. Jordan and Robert Gaillard, president and ex-treasurer, respectively, of the Paper, Allied-Industrial Chemical & Energy Workers Int'l Union Local 1575, each pled guilty to one count of failing to maintain union records. [Dep't of Labor 3/26/01]