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.

Electrical Workers Secretary-Treasurer in Minnesota Convicted of Theft

IBEW logoOn April 2, William Thomas Brown, former financial secretary of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 886 in New Hope, Minnesota, was convicted in Hennepin County District Court of theft of union funds in the amount of $6,467.05. He was sentenced to three years probation and 30 days of home electronic monitoring, and ordered to make restitution. The conviction follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 4/21/09).

SEIU May Have Pressured White House into Withholding Stimulus Funds for California

SEIU logoWith about one-eighth of the nation's population, it is to be expected that California would receive a substantial share of the $787 billion federal fiscal "stimulus" package recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. But the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), in exercising political leverage, reportedly is playing a major behind-the-scenes role in holding up billions of dollars set for distribution to that state. The dubious merit of the stimulus plan is a separate issue. Of primary concern here is the 2-million-member labor organization functioning as a de facto government agency under Obama.

Former Chicago Teamster President Pleads Guilty to Role in Election Rigging; Three Others Convicted

TruckersConsidering what lies ahead, Robert Walston is probably glad just to get this part of his legal troubles behind him. The former president of Chicago's International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 743 had been forced out of his position in August 2007 in the wake of his alleged role in an election-rigging scheme three years earlier. This past March 23, Walston pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, theft from a labor organization, and property embezzlement. He had been named the previous March as a co-conspirator in a superseding indictment. More recently, three of his co-conspirators were found guilty following a three-week trial.

Washington, D.C. Local Officials Sued for Fraud, Intimidation

The Washington Teachers Union’s reputation couldn’t have sunk any lower than several years ago.  Its chieftain, Barbara Bullock, and close allies in and out of the union from 1995-2002 ran their union like a candy store, ripping off at least $4.6 million from WTU coffers.  It was only in late 2002, with the release of a damning independent audit ordered by the parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, that the reign of theft ended.  Virtually all persons charged in the case either pleaded guilty or were convicted by jury.  Bullock, an out-of-control spendthrift, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a nine-year stretch in federal prison.  One would have thought that the local’s current leaders would go to any lengths to avoid even the appearance of malfeasance.  But old habits die hard – or at least a recent lawsuit alleges.

Upstate New York Financial Secretary of Asbestos Workers Charged with Theft, Records Fraud

On April 1, Frederick Joseph McManus, financial secretary of Asbestos Workers Local 30 in Syracuse, was charged in the Criminal Court of the City of Syracuse, N.Y. with grand larceny in an unspecified amount and falsifying union financial reporting forms. The charges follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and the City of Syracuse. (OLMS, 4/21/09).

Convicted Laborers Official in Hawaii Denied Request for Exemption from Office-Holding Ban

Laborers logoOn April 2, Oliver Kapau III, formerly lead field representative of Local 368 of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) in Honolulu, was denied a request for an exemption from holding union office. Section 504 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act prohibits union officials convicted of certain crimes from holding office for at least 13 years. Kapau had been convicted of money-laundering in November 2002. The U.S. Labor Department informed him last June of its decision to continue the ban. (OLMS, 4/21/09).

Convicted Minnesota Plumbers Local Business Manager Denied Request for Lift of Ban on Holding Office

On April 1, Thomas James Martin, former business manager of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 15, was denied a request in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota for an exemption from holding union office. Section 504 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act prohibits union officials convicted of certain crimes from holding office for at least 13 years. In April 2003 Martin had been convicted of mail fraud and theft from his Minneapolis union. The following month the U.S. Department of Labor informed him of its decision to impose a ban. (OLMS, 4/21/09).

Former Financial Secretary of Ohio Steelworkers Local Sentenced for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn March 30, Steven Snyder, former financial secretary of Local 5724 of the United Steelworkers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to five months in prison for embezzling $78,893.47 in union strike fund benefits. He also will have to serve an additional five months of home confinement as part of three years of probation. The union is based in Clarington, Ohio. The sentencing follows a joint probe by the FBI and the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 4/21/09).

Ohio Postal Workers Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

APWU logoOn March 30, Tina Curtis, former secretary-treasurer for American Postal Workers Union Local 232, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service for embezzling $18,283 in funds from the Columbus union. She also will have to make restitution. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 4/21/09).

Machinists Local Secretary-Treasurer in Florida Pleads Guilty to Theft

On March 27, Glen Gard, former secretary-treasurer for International Association of Machinists Local 2460 in Pensacola, pled guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to one count of embezzling approximately $90,500 in union funds. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 4/21/09).

Florida Steelworkers Local Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn March 25, Tarris D. Dallas, former financial secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 9-415 in Fernandina Beach, Florida, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida to embezzling about $105,000 in union funds. The guilty plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 4/21/09).

 

Upstate New York AFSCME Local President Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

AFSCME logoDonna Caltabiano was resourceful in skimming union funds. Now she'll have to put her talents to a different use. On Wednesday, March 25, Caltabiano, formerly president of Local 888 of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), a New York State public employees union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York to felony embezzlement. She had been employed as a secretary at the local, which represents nursing assistants, nurses' aides and other employees at Columbia-Greene Medical Center in Catskill, N.Y.  CSEA is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Former Secretary-Treasurer of Laborers Local in Massachusetts Charged with Theft; Ordered to Stand Trial

Laborers logoLocal prosecutors in Brockton, Massachusetts are saying "later" to restitution money - at least until they hear another word: "guilty." Susan Elliott, former secretary-treasurer of Local 1162 of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) in Brockton, Massachusetts, had been charged on March 24 with theft of $24,795 in union funds. She entered a not-guilty plea and was released without bail.

SEIU Hires Union-Busting Security Firm to Aid in California Trusteeship; Company Sues for Back Payment

SEIU logoThe ongoing battle between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and a major California health care workers affiliate for the last several months has been in its special-ops phase. And the parent union, not happy over its sudden bad publicity, may owe a substantial sum to the security firm it hired to keep the peace. On May 1, the OSO Group, Ltd. sued the SEIU and an allied security firm in San Francisco federal court, demanding back payment for surveillance and security services related to a trusteeship that the SEIU imposed upon the dissident Oakland-Calif.-based United Health Workers-West (UHW) in January. OSO has close ties to a union-busting company that broke a UHW strike four years ago.

New Report by Legal Scholar Argues Card Check/Arbitration Proposal Is Unconstitutional

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as Union Corruption Update has argued on several occasions, is a misnamed piece of federal legislation. Under the guise of expanding a worker's choice of whether or not to join a union, it would remove that choice, intimidating employers in the process. The proposal is based on unsound economics. But it's likely also based on unsound constitutional law. That's the view expressed in a new report authored by a major legal observer in public policy issues, the University of Chicago's Richard Epstein. As congressional Democrats, with the full support of the Obama administration, are poised to repeal existing safeguards against unchecked union power, Epstein's analysis is indispensable reading.

Soft Drink Workers Treasurer in Kentucky Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On March 19, James Decker, former treasurer of the Independent Soft Drink Workers Union in Burlington, Kentucky, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to embezzling union funds of an unspecified amount. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. (OLMS, 4/21/09).

Secretary-Treasurer of Federal Employees Local in Southern Illinois Pleads Guilty

Don Padgett ran the finances of a correctional employees union. Now he's likely to wind up as one of their inmates. On May 1, the former secretary-treasurer for American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1304, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of mail fraud in the amount of $186,997. Padgett, 39, a resident of Granite City, Illinois, during November 2001-May 2008 wrote unauthorized union checks to himself, made unauthorized use of the union's credit card, and covered up the offenses on U.S. Labor Department financial reporting forms. He faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing in September. AFGE Local 1304 represents officers at the federal correctional facility in Greenville, Ill., east of St. Louis. (KSDK-TV, 5/1/09; St. Louis Business Journal, 5/1/09).

Senator Hatch Seeks Restored Labor Department Oversight; Skewers Obama, Solis

Hatch photoThe Department of Labor under President Obama appears to be doing everything it can to accommodate union interests, especially when it comes to investigating corruption. But a few members of Congress are openly objecting. Among them is Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. Hatch on April 22 issued a rebuke to a decision by the department the previous day to roll back new rules designed to make union officials more accountable to the workers they represent. "It is extremely disappointing that the Obama administration is choosing a time of financial crisis to cut investigations into financial corruption solely because it may reside in its own politically constituency," he said.

Pennsylvania Steelworkers Field Secretary Pleads Guilty to Theft

SteelworkersDonna Simpson probably realized early on the futility of denying the charges against her. On Friday, April 17, the field secretary for the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), pleaded guilty in Pittsburgh federal court to one count of embezzling funds from the union. Simpson, 42, a resident of East McKeesport, Pennsylvania, had been indicted last August by a grand jury for stealing $87,823 from the bank account of the USWA's Organization for Active Retirees. Prosecutors said that during June 2006-January 2008 she wrote herself 82 unauthorized checks. Sentencing is scheduled for July 22. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. (Associated Press, 4/17/09; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 4/17/09; other sources).

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