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.

Buffalo Jury Convicts Operating Engineers Boss; Acquits Four Others

Operating engineer at workAmong practitioners of labor violence, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17, based near Buffalo, N.Y., has to rank as among the most obnoxious. The evidence of crime proved convincing enough for a federal jury last month to convict former local president and business manager Mark Kirsch on various racketeering-related charges. Yet the same jury in the six-week trial also acquitted four other defendants. Prosecutors alleged that all five union members were involved in repeated acts of vandalism of nonunion construction sites and terror against nonunion contractors and workers. The case had sprung open in 2008 with the indictment of a dozen persons, several of whom eventually pled  guilty. While union leaders and their lawyers are cheering the outcome, it is unlikely the local can resume its mobster style of enforcement.

IATSE Secretary-Treasurer in Rhode Island Charged; Dies

IATSE logoJohn Brennan embezzled union funds to enhance his life. The stress of having been found out very likely contributed to his death. On March 19, Brennan, former secretary-treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 23, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island on 13 counts of stealing more than $74,000 in funds from the Providence union. The charges had followed a joint investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration. Sadly, only a couple weeks later, on April 3, the Providence Journal reported his death, which had occurred on March 29. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Providence confirmed to NLPC that the John Brennan indicated in the obituary was the same person named in the indictment. No cause of death was given.

Iron Workers Office Manager in Cincinnati Charged with Embezzlement

Iron Workers logoOn March 24, Julie Skaggs, former office manager for International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 372, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on one count of embezzling $51,491 in funds from the Cincinnati union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Kansas City, Kan. Independent Oil Workers Treasurer Sentenced

On March 17, Jesse Madrigal, former treasurer of the Independent Oil and Chemical Workers Union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment for embezzling $24,227 in funds from the Kansas City, Kansas-based union. He had pleaded guilty last November. Madrigal already had made full restitution in the amount of $30,607. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Machinists Business Agent in Minnesota Pleads Guilty

MachinistsOn March 14, James Kiser, former directing business representative for International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 165, pleaded guilty in Stearns County (Minn.) Court to one count of theft of over $1,000 from the St. Cloud-based labor organization. He had been charged in December 2012 with four counts of theft totaling $5,919. The charge and guilty plea follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Carpenters Local Secretary in Louisiana Pleads Guilty

Carpenters logoOn March 12, Jeanine Breaux, former office secretary for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 1846, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to embezzling funds in an unspecified sum from the Metairie, La. union. She had been charged in February. The charge and guilty plea follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New Orleans Ironworkers Secretary Pleads Guilty to Theft

Iron Workers logoOn March 12, Andrea Hobgood, former secretary for International Association of Iron Workers Local 58, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to embezzling an unspecified sum of funds from the New Orleans-based union. She had been charged in January. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NLRB Forces Unionism on NCAA Sports

Northwestern footballIt's hard to imagine a blurring of the line between amateur and professional sports more flagrant than the National Labor Relations Board Chicago regional office ruling last Wednesday that Northwestern football players, as "employees," are eligible to unionize. Cheerleaders for the decision include the United Steelworkers and the NFL Players Association. This is to be expected. Unions envision more members, dues and bargaining power. Though the NLRB decision applies only to athletes on scholarship at private institutions, only the naïve would believe it won't influence practices at state schools - or the willingness of unions to organize players at either.

Twin Cities-Area CWA Shop Chairman Pleads Guilty to Theft; Sentenced

Communications Workers logoOn March 12, Jason Brown, former shop chairman of Communications Workers of America Local 87140, pleaded guilty in Hennepin County (Minnesota) District Court to theft in an amount of over $1,000 from the Minneapolis-based union. He then was sentenced to one year and one day of confinement (stayed for five years), but ordered to serve 90 days of confinement in addition to five years of probation. He also was ordered to pay $3,905 in restitution less what he previously had paid. Brown had been charged last November. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Sheet Metal Workers Business Manager in Oklahoma Charged; Pleads Guilty

Sheet Metal Workers logoOn March 11, Michael Couch, former business manager of Sheet Metal Workers Local 270, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma with false entry and concealment of facts in financial records of the Tulsa union. He then pleaded guilty. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFSCME President in Kansas City, Mo. Indicted for Fraud

AFSCME logoFor four years Jesse Morgan headed a union that represented prison employees. He's now likely to experience what it's like to be an inmate. On February 25, Morgan, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1707, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on 29 counts of fraud in connection with embezzlement of more than $185,000 in union funds during nearly his entire tenure in office. The indictment, which contains a forfeiture allegation, follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

West Virginia AFGE Local Officials Sentenced for Thefts

AFGE logoOn March 6, Janet Posey and Linda Bland, respectively, the former president and vice president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2384, were sentenced in U.S. District for the Northern District of West Virginia, for stealing funds in an amount of less than $1,000 from the Clarksburg, W.Va.-based union and then concealing the thefts in union records. Each had pled guilty last October after being indicted in August. Posey previously had made full restitution in the amount of $3,026; Bland was ordered to pay $947 in restitution plus a $250 fine. AFGE Local 2384 represents employees of the Clarksburg VA Medical Center. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Identity Thief Who Stole from Marine Engineers Union Pleads Guilty

Marine Engineers logoOn March 6, Kenneth Marshall Jr. pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of bank theft, and one count of aiding and abetting. Marshall, indicted in January, had cashed two counterfeit checks totaling $18,851 drawn on the bank account of Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) District 1. MEBA, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO. According to a union spokesman, this was a case of identity theft. The indictment and guilty plea follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Boilermakers Bookkeeper in Indiana Charged with Embezzlement

BoilermakerOn February 7, Karen Stone, former bookkeeper for International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local Lodge 374, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana with embezzling $9,169 in funds from the Hammond union. She then pleaded guilty. The charge and guilty plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Oklahoma Carpenters Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

Carpenters logoOn February 5, Angela Webster, former office secretary for United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 943, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to six years of probation and ordered to pay $23,015 in restitution for embezzling funds from the Tulsa union. She had been indicted last September and pleaded guilty in November to stealing a reported $13,015. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Fresno ATU Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

ATU logo Adam Raimer used his union like a personal bank. At least he's repaid a large part of what he stole. On February 3, Raimer, formerly secretary-treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1027, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to five years of probation for one count each of embezzlement and access device fraud against the Fresno union in the amount of $41,429. He also was ordered to pay the remaining restitution of $18,429 plus a $200 special assessment. ATU Local 1027 represents city bus drivers in Fresno and MV Transportation bus drivers, dispatchers and mechanics in Fresno and Tulare.

NLRB Revives 'Ambush Election' Rule to Thwart Opposition to Union Campaigns

NLRB logoA fair election campaign operates on the principle of a "level playing field" - while neither side is guaranteed victory, each should have an equal opportunity to state its case. The National Labor Relations Board has an unusual interpretation. On February 5, the NLRB reissued a rule that would curtail the ability of nonunion employers and employees to oppose union organizing drives. This 'quickie' or 'ambush' election rule, is a near rewrite of its 2011 rule change that briefly made it onto the books before being struck down on procedural grounds by a federal court in May 2012. Here, as before, the allowable time frame for opponents of a union drive to express their views would be reduced from 42 days to as few as 10 days.

UFCW Secretary-Treasurer in Louisiana Pleads Guilty to Theft; Sentenced

Food and Commercial Workers logoOn February 3, Patrick Parker, formerly secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 638C, pleaded guilty in the 16th Judicial District Court, St. Mary's Parish, Louisiana, to theft in an amount of $1,500 or more from the Franklin, La.-based union. He then was sentenced to five years at hard labor (suspended) and ordered to pay $4,480 in restitution and $1,375 in fines. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New Orleans-Area Carpenters Secretary Charged with Embezzlement

Carpenters logoOn February 3, Jeanine Breaux, former secretary-bookkeeper for United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 1846, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana with one count of embezzlement of funds in an unspecified amount from the Metairie-based union. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Letter Carriers Secretary in Alabama Indicted for Embezzlement

NALC logoOn January 31, Harold Ray, former secretary of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 469 and former secretary of the NALC Alabama State Association, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama on one count of embezzling $38,565 in union funds. NALC Branch 469 is located in Mobile, while the state association is located in Birmingham. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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