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.

Kansas City, Mo. AFSCME President Sentenced for Theft

AFSCME logoJesse 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.

Elevator Constructors Business Manager in New Mexico Sentenced

Elevator Constructors logoLeonard 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.

Labor Department Files Complaint against Michigan CWA Local

Communications Workers logoThe 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.            

New Study Tallies Longshoremen Costs; Calls for Bargaining Alternative

Two and a half years ago, the International Longshoremen Association was preparing for a lengthy strike which could have crippled Atlantic and Gulf Coast shipping.  Though averted, the crisis was indicative of a pattern of union-driven instability.  The Manhattan Institute has some ideas about that.  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 economic costs.  Written by Institute Senior Fellow Diana Furchtgott-Roth, the report explains why present arrangements put us at a competitive disadvantage with other nations.  Congress, argues the author, can resolve much of the problem by shifting collective bargaining oversight from the National Labor Relations Board to the National Mediation Board.

Transportation Union Treasurer in Houston Pleads Guilty to Theft

United Transportation Union logoOn April 24, Henry Shuler, former secretary-treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 1892, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to one count of embezzling $40,118 in funds over a six-year period from the Houston-based union.  Prosecutors had charged that Shuler, now 65, a resident of Houston, wrote union checks for purchases from Sam’s Club and masked other funds as “dues” repayments to nonexistent local members.  He had been charged in February following an internal audit and a subsequent investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  He is set for sentencing in July.

Security Officers Union President Charged with Embezzling $300K+

Security guardOn March 30, Assane Faye, founder and president of the United Security & Police Officers Association (USPOA), was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on two counts of embezzlement of union funds and seven counts of unemployment fraud.  Prosecutors say that Mr. Faye, an ethnic Senegalese, since 2010 stole more than $300,000 from the Washington, D.C.-based union.  The indictment follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Office of Inspector General.

Feds Probe Free-Spending Boilermakers Local in Pittsburgh

Boilermaker at workWhen it comes to living large, no union is quite the match for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.  And the IBB appears to be setting an example for its local affiliates.  Late last month, KDKA, the CBS television affiliate for the Pittsburgh area, confirmed that the FBI has launched an investigation of the Pittsburgh-based Boilermakers Local 154.  The union, which represents more than 2,000 welders, pipefitters and other construction workers, may have diverted as much as $1 million in member dues for unauthorized expenditures during the three most recent fiscal years.  The probe is based on financial reports submitted to the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Illinois Laborers Local Bookkeeper Indicted for Embezzlement

LIUNA logoCarolyn Hall took around a year and a half to have the law of averages catch up.  On or about April 24, Hall, former bookkeeper for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1197, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois with embezzling $26,491 in cash receipts from the union, which represents construction and other workers in southern counties of the state.  Prosecutors allege Hall, 53, a resident of McLeansboro, Ill., during July 2012-February 2014 stole cash receipts from member dues and used the funds to cover personal expenses.  The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New Bill Would Ban Mandatory Project Labor Agreements

In the construction industry, nothing exemplifies union monopoly, and its costs, quite like a Project Labor Agreement.  A new proposal before Congress, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, would protect contractors from intrusion by organized labor upon contractual liberty.  Sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La. (H.R. 1671, S. 71), the measure would bar the use of these agreements on federally-sponsored or subsidized public works.  In promoting open competition in bidding, hiring and other aspects of project labor, it effectively would overturn President Obama’s Executive Order 13502.  Issued in February 2009, that order “encouraged” federal agencies to require such pacts on a case-by-case basis on projects of $25 million or more.

New Bill Would Curb 'Official Time' for Unionized Federal Workers

AFGE logoFor decades, federal employees have used working hours to conduct union business, effectively forcing taxpayers to cover the costs of activity unrelated to job responsibilities.  Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., thinks this practice, known as ‘official time,’ is due for an overhaul.  On March 26, Hice unveiled the Federal Employee Accountability Act (H.R. 1658).  The bill, which has gathered more than 15 House co-sponsors, would bar unionized federal workers from engaging in bargaining or arbitration while on agency time. “After examining the practices of over 60 government agencies,” said Hice, “my office has found an astounding amount of government waste.  By eliminating the ‘official time’ practice, we will return over $1 billion to hardworking American taxpayers, and shed this shady, wasteful practice that only benefits unions.”

UTU Financial Secretary in Washington State Pleads Guilty

United Transportation Union logoOn March 20, Alfonso Rodriguez, former financial secretary of United Transportation Union Local 117, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Washington to one count of false reporting in connection with his theft of funds from the Southworth (Kitsap County), Washington-based union.  He also agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $34,601.  Sentencing is set for June.  The plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.    

New York MTA Police Union President Charged in Theft

MTA inspectorsIt’s a familiar story:  A union official with a gambling problem steals from the till to cover personal losses.  On March 31, John Earvin, former president of the United Federation of Law Enforcement Officers (UFLEO), was arrested by federal agents for embezzling nearly $50,000 over more than three years from the Bellerose (Nassau County, Long Island), N.Y.-based union, which represents Special Inspectors at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  He had been indicted on one count of wire fraud the previous day in Manhattan federal court following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Laborers Secretary-Treasurer in Oklahoma Charged; Pleads Guilty

LIUNA logoOn March 26, Michael Low, former secretary-treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America Local 2097, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma to one count of making a false statement in financial records of the Oklahoma City union in connection with his embezzlement of $12,937.  He then pleaded guilty.  The charge and plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.     

Paramount Pictures Exec Fired for Embezzling Union Benefits

Paramount Pictures logoIn the motion picture world, news about a scandal can travel slowly – very slowly.  Late in March, Paramount Pictures announced it had dismissed a longtime executive, Stephen Koppekin, two years earlier for embezzling an unspecified sum of funds from three union benefit plans to which the studio makes contributions.  The departure of Koppekin, Paramount’s vice president of industrial relations and a trustee for the plans, originally was attributed to “retirement.”  Yet the real explanation was his hand in the till, says a whistleblower ex-employee, Nichole Goluskin.  Koppekin denies all accusations.  Yet even if he is innocent, the problem of benefits theft, and cover-up, may be far more common to the film industry than realized.  The U.S. Department of Labor, for one, wants some answers.

Washington State Letter Carriers Financial Secretary Pleads Guilty

Letter Carriers logoOn April 1, Henry Mayer, former financial secretary of National Association of Letter Carriers Local 852, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to one count of embezzlement of an unspecified sum from the Yakima-based union.  Mayer had been indicted on March 25 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFGE Local President in Indiana Pleads Guilty to Theft

AFGE logoOn March 30, Curtis Bullick, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3254, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to theft of property of an unspecified amount from the Bunker Hill, Ind.-based union.  Bullick had been charged on March 13 following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Chicago BLET Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Records Fraud

BLET logoOn March 2, Kimberly Hesla, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 474, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Illinois to one year of probation, and was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and a special assessment of $25, for falsifying financial records of the Chicago-based union.  She had pleaded guilty in November after being charged in October.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

BLET Secretary in West Virginia Indicted for Embezzlement

BLET logoOn March 3, Nathan McCallister, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 101, a Teamsters affiliate, was charged in the Summers County Court of West Virginia with one count of embezzlement in an amount of more than $1,000.  The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Virginia Fire Fighters Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty

IAFF logoSheron Gibson won the trust of his union – too much, in fact.  On March 5, Gibson, a former firefighter for the City of Suffolk, Va. fire department, pleaded guilty in a state court to one count each of embezzlement and forgery in connection with his theft of about $109,000 from International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2801, where he was secretary-treasurer for a half-decade.  He had been indicted last June on 12 counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery following a police investigation.  Gibson has made full restitution.

Letter Carriers Treasurer in SE Virginia Sentenced for Embezzlement

Letter Carriers logoOn March 25, Choi Hawks, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to six months of home detention and five years of supervised probation for embezzling $10,744 in funds from the Chesapeake, Va.-based union.  He also was ordered to attend counseling sessions.  Hawks, who pleaded guilty last December after being charged in November, has paid full restitution in the sum of $11,196.  The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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