Union Corruption Update

Since 1997, NLPC has become a high-profile and credible source for information about America’s labor unions through our publication Union Corruption Update.

The newsletter has been referenced in many other media outlets including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and National Journal.

Michigan Carpenters Council Comptroller Charged with $500K Theft

Carpenters logoGlenn Robert Smith dodged a bullet nearly two years ago in a civil lawsuit filed by his union.  He might not be so fortunate this time around now that he’s facing federal criminal charges.  On July 1, Smith, former comptroller for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with an information count for embezzling $499,087 from the Detroit-area labor organization.  The charge follows a joint investigation by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General. 

AFSCME Home Care Workers President in New York Sentenced

AFSCME logoOn June 26, Juanita Phillips, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 389, was sentenced in the Supreme Court of New York State to one year in prison for stealing funds in an unspecified amount from the New York City-based home care workers union.  She had pleaded guilty last September.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Boston Ex-Teamster Pleads Guilty to Unemployment Fraud

Teamsters logoThomas Flaherty can’t seem to stay away from trouble – or federal court.  On June 29, Flaherty, a former employee and member of the Boston-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 82, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to three counts of mail fraud in connection with state unemployment benefits that he had received while working full-time.  The plea follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration, plus the Boston Police Department.

Cincinnati Iron Workers Office Manager Pleads Guilty

Iron Workers logoOn July 15, Julie Skaggs, former office manager for International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 372, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to one count of embezzlement of $51,491 in funds from the Cincinnati-based union.  She had been charged in March.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Southwest Ohio CWA Financial Secretary Sentenced for Theft

On July 1, Thomas Wolfer, former financial secretary of Communications Workers of America Local 84729, was sentenced in the State of Ohio, Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, to three years of community service, and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution plus court costs, for theft from the Fayetteville, Ohio union.  Wolfer had pleaded guilty in March to one count of felony theft.  The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

UGSOA Local President in Pennsylvania Charged; Pleads Guilty

UGSOA logoHoward Royal spent only 11 months ripping off his union.  That was plenty of time to do well for himself.  On July 17, Royal, former president of United Government Security Officers of America Local 304, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to one count of wire fraud in connection with his thefts totaling $66,989.02 from the Harrisburg union.  He had been charged nine days earlier, with the Justice Department filing a tentative plea agreement along with the information count.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. 

IATSE Treasurer for Wisconsin District Council Sentenced

IATSE logoOn July 6, Ira Alper, former treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees District 9, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to four months of imprisonment to be followed by two years of supervised release, including six months of home detention, for theft of funds from the Madison, Wisc.-based labor organization.  The offenses occurred in Illinois.  He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $41,568 plus a $100 special assessment.  Alper had pleaded guilty back in October 2013 to embezzling $76,768 in funds.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Painters Bookkeeper in Boston Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Painters logoOn July 22, Jacqueline Askew, former bookkeeper for International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Council 35, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to one count of embezzlement of $40,930 in funds from the Roslindale (Boston)-based union.  She had been charged in June following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Challenge to Forced Public Employee Unionism

When it comes to coercion, government employee unions are masters of the game.  But now they must contend with masters of the courtroom.  On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), a case previously dismissed by district and appeals courts.  Several school teachers across California, led by an Orange County teacher, Rebecca Friedrichs (in photo), assert that the CTA has no authority to levy political fees on non-members without prior consent.  In light of its 2012 Knox decision, and the political character of many “non-political” bargaining issues, the Court may overturn its 1977 Abood ruling authorizing the public-sector union shop.  The CTA and allies counter, less than convincingly, that the plaintiffs are “free riders” mooching off dues-paying members. 

Ex-President of Operating Engineers Local in Michigan Charged

IUOE logoOn June 19, Steven Minella, former president and business agent of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with failing to report to appropriate authorities the commission of extortion by another official of the Bloomfield Hills, Mich. local.  The charge follows a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Letter Carriers Secretary-Treasurer in North Carolina Sentenced

Letter Carriers logoOn June 16, Russell Cameron Hill, former financial secretary-treasurer for National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 780, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to two years in prison, with home detention of up to 180 consecutive days, for embezzling funds of an unspecified amount from the New Bern, N.C.-based union.  He also was ordered to pay a $1,200 fine and a $100 assessment.  Hill had pled guilty in March.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Canada Passes Union Transparency Legislation

Canadian national flagLabor leaders, especially corrupt ones, resent it when outsiders inquire into how member dues are spent.  As in the U.S., this is an observable pattern in Canada.  And as in the U.S., widespread discontent has led to tangible reform.  On June 30, the Canadian Senate voted 35-22 to approve a bill, C-377, to mandate union financial accountability.  The measure, supported though not sponsored by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, had traveled a long road since initial passage by the House of Commons more than three years ago.  The new law will force unions to make available to the public detailed data.  Unions and political supporters are denouncing the legislation as an attack on workers’ rights, and vow to overturn it in court.  Yet the weight of public opinion stands in the way – and with good reason.

Boston Local Painters Bookkeeper Charged with Embezzlement

Painters logoOn June 24, Jacqueline Askew, former bookkeeper for International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Council 35, was charged in an information count in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts with embezzling $40,930 in funds from the Boston union.  The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

North Carolina Postal Workers Local President Sentenced

APWU logoOn May 26, Salvatore Mauro, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 1236, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina to three years of probation, and ordered to pay $8,831 in restitution plus a $25 assessment, for creating a false financial report on behalf of the Salisbury-based local.  He had pleaded guilty in January shortly after being charged that month.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFGE President in Tennessee Sentenced for Theft

AFGE logoOn May 18, Shiryll Durham, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1687, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee to time served for taking and carrying, with the intent to steal, personal property from the Mountain Home (Johnson City) union.  He also was ordered to pay $2,640 in restitution and a $25 fine.  Durham had pleaded guilty in January after being charged in October 2014.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New York MTA Police Union President Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

MTA policeOn June 19, John Earvin, former president of the United Federation of Law Enforcement Officers (UFLEO), pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to wire fraud in connection with his theft of nearly $50,000 from the Bellerose, Long Island, N.Y.-based union.  He had been arrested and indicted in March following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  Prosecutors had charged that Earvin had used his union ATM card to make hundreds of unauthorized cash withdrawals.  UFLEO represents Special Inspectors for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Carpenters Secretary in Washington State Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Carpenters logoOn June 11, John Jones, former financial secretary for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 59, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to embezzling more than $12,000 from the Spokane-based union.  The plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New York School Bus Drivers Boss Sentenced for Violating Ban

School busPerhaps this latest sentence should convince Warren Annunziata of his lack of a future in organized labor.  On June 19, Annunziata, founder and former longtime president of United Craft and Industrial Workers Union Local 91, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to two years of probation, and ordered to pay $126,858 in forfeiture and a $100,000 fine, for running a union-sponsored benefit fund despite having been banned from union activity due to an earlier conviction.  He had pleaded guilty to extortion last November following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration, and Office of Inspector General.

Amtrak Union Treasurer in New York Pleads Guilty to Thefts

Fraternal Order of Police logoEric Givens' job was to keep order on the nation’s passenger railroad.  Unfortunately, he thought it also included stealing union money.  On June 24, Givens, former secretary-treasurer of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 189 and the Amtrak Police Labor Committee, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to one count of embezzling at least $100,000 from the New York-based labor organizations.  Givens, an Amtrak police officer, had been arrested and charged last June with one count each of wire fraud, embezzlement and making a false statement, and indicted three weeks later.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S.

SAG Denies Hollywood Ex-Stuntwoman Her Due Benefits

SAG logoLeslie Hoffman has jumped off boats, fallen down stairs, and involved herself in more car crashes than she would like to remember.  But when it comes to receiving compensation from her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Pension and Health Plan, the former movie and TV stuntwoman can’t buy a break.  A federal appeals court over a year ago ordered plan administrators to reconsider their denial of her injury claims, but she has yet to receive a dime.  Articles in the June 18 and June 24 issues of Deadline Hollywood have highlighted her travails, noting her case may be a turning point in the way SAG and its affiliate union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), treat stunt performers.  “It’s a disgrace,” says Hoffman’s lawyer, Charles Fleishman.  “She worked her whole life, and then nobody wants to be bothered with her.”

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