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.

New York CWA Local Dissenters Victimized by Union Terror; File Complaint

CWA/IBEW workers demonstrateAnyone who believes labor unions have forsaken menace as a tool to be used against internal dissent hasn't hung around Communications Workers of America Local 1101 lately. A civil complaint filed in Brooklyn, N.Y. federal court against the Staten Island-based union this past February provides apparently damning evidence that the labor organization is run by thugs and thieves. Salvatore DiStefano and Sebastian Taravella, union members and longtime heavy equipment operators for Verizon, allege they were continuously subject to harassment and violence after reporting an illegal union time-padding scheme to the Verizon security team. The pair is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Carpenters Business Manager in New Jersey Convicted of Embezzlement

Exotic dancerNew Jersey go-go bars for seven years were a source of pleasure for Shawn Clark and friends. Now they're likely to be a reminder of pain to come. This past Monday, May 17, Clark, a former New Jersey official with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, was convicted by a jury in Trenton federal court of illegally running up expenses on his union American Express card to the tune of about $85,000, most of it on bar and meal tabs at more than a dozen strip clubs. He had been arrested last June and subsequently pleaded not guilty to charges indicated in the 16-count indictment. He now faces up to five years in prison on each count.

South Dakota Stage Workers Chief Charged; Pleads Not Guilty

IATSE logoPaul Wyatt believes he's innocent. But his prospects for acquittal don't look good. On May 12, Wyatt, formerly president and business manager of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Stage and Picture Operators Local 220, pleaded not guilty in federal court after being charged with embezzling about $35,000 from the union, an affiliate of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Prosecutors allege the thefts occurred during January 2008-August 2009. Wyatt, 48, a resident of Sioux Falls, was released on bond. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

Newspaper Guild Treasurer in Pennsylvania Indicted for Thefts

Antonio Jordan not long ago worked for a newspaper. Now he's getting his name in the papers. Jordan, formerly treasurer of the Erie Newspaper Guild, a union representing employees of the Erie Times-News, was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 11 for embezzling $8,767 from the Communications Workers of America affiliate. Jordan, 37, allegedly used a union-issued credit card to make unauthorized purchases during the period March 2005-February 2009. The union, also known as CWA Local 38187, is attempting to get insurance to pay for the loss.

Baltimore Waterfront Guard Union President Sentenced

Baltimore harborPaul S. Peters II headed a union whose members guarded the Baltimore waterfront. Now he's going be under the supervision of prison guards. On April 30, Peters, formerly president of the Waterfront Guard Association (WGA) Local 1852, was sentenced in Baltimore federal court to 30 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for embezzling funds from his union and two union-sponsored employee benefit plans. He and the local recording secretary, Brian Armentrout, were indicted in February 2009 and pleaded guilty in July. Peters also will have to make $320,000 in restitution. Armentrout has yet to be sentenced.

Union-Backed Bill Would Force Monopoly Bargaining on Public Safety Employees

Mayor Bloomberg in Times Square bomber aftermathEver so quietly, America passed a milestone in 2009. For the first time in our history the number of employees in the public sector belonging to a labor union exceeded the number in the private sector. Proposed legislation in Congress would push this trend along further. The benignly-named Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R.413, S.1611) would mandate union monopoly bargaining for state and local public-safety employees. Its brand of "cooperation," strongly backed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and other unions, would force police, fire, ambulance, and corrections departments across the country to create collective bargaining units to cover employees. If evidence is any guide, however, this expansion of public-sector unionism is likely to produce higher taxes, strained budgets and more strikes.

Alaska Nurses Union Chief Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

NursesThomas Renkes didn't head the Alaska Nurses Association for very long. But he used that time to siphon funds from the labor organization to pay for personal expenses. In late April, Renkes agreed to plead guilty in federal court to embezzling more than $22,000 from the Anchorage-based union, which represents nearly 1,000 nurses at various hospitals. He is scheduled for a plea hearing on June 3 and faces up to five years in prison.

Mary Kay Henry Elected New SEIU President

Mary Kay Henry photoIt may have been a formality, but the executive board of the Service Employees International Union this past Saturday overwhelmingly named SEIU Executive Vice President Mary Kay Henry to succeed Andrew Stern as the labor organization's next president. The 73-member governing body met in Washington, D.C. to select Ms. Henry, who ran unopposed after Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger dropped out of the race a little over a week earlier. Henry, like Burger, is a Stern loyalist.

Treasurer of Boston-Area Firefighters Local Charged with Embezzlement

FirefightersLike many crooked union office employees in recent years, Truong Nguyen had a gambling problem. His case comes with a unique twist: He was arrested at a casino. Nguyen, a firefighter/paramedic with the Norwell, Mass. fire department and treasurer of its union, Local 2700 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, on April 12 was taken into custody at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, and charged with cleaning out the union bank account to the tune of more than $46,000. He was arraigned in Hingham (Mass.) District Court, where according to his attorney he regretted his "unfortunate infraction." He was held on $99,000 bail.

New York Newspaper Mailroom Union President, Administrator Plead Guilty

Newspaper truckIt's getting hard to find an honest man at Communications Workers of America Local 14170. The union, which represents several hundred print shop and mailroom employees at several New York City-area daily newspapers, including the New York Times and the New York Post, now can count its former president and interim administrator as admitted embezzlers. On Wednesday, April 21 Wayne Mitchell pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to embezzling more than $200,000 from the union, also known as Mailers Local 6, which he'd led for decades before his ouster a couple years ago. Two days later on April 23, his appointed successor, Larry DeAngelis, pleaded guilty to stealing $60,000 from the union. Each faces a maximum of five years in prison.

Burger Withdraws from SEIU Race; Henry Set to Head Union

SEIUThe successor to Andrew Stern as president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had come down to his two top aides. Now it's down to one. Late last week, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger announced that she had dropped out of the race for interim president, virtually assuring that the union's executive board this week will name Executive Vice President Mary Kay Henry for that position. As each was a Stern ally - he'd referred to them as "lifelong partners" - the race was less about politics than personality and management style. In a letter withdrawing her candidacy, Burger termed Ms. Henry, who also heads the SEIU health care division, her "union sister" and stated she would work closely with her. Burger wrote: "The media is just wrong when they suggest that this contest represents a shift in SEIU's priorities or a rejection of the Stern/Burger agenda."

Rhode Island AFSCME Council under Investigation

Historic PawtucketAuthorities in Pawtucket, Rhode Island aren't giving out any names, but they're fairly certain they have the right person. Local police confirmed a few days ago that a City Hall employee is at the center of a probe of missing finances of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Rhode Island Council 94. Police Chief Arthur Martins did not name the suspect, but confirmed suspicions that members of his force are looking into a complaint filed last week by the council. Kenneth DeLorenzo, executive director of Council 94, remarked, "We are working with Pawtucket Police regarding the finances of the city employees of Pawtucket Local 1012."

City of Richmond, Va. Drops All Charges against Postal Workers Local Official

Postal Workers logoOn March 23, Sylvia Grooms, director of industrial relations for American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 199 in Richmond, Virginia, had all charges of larceny against her dropped and expunged from the public record by the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond.  The decision read in part:  "Whereas, it further appearing to the Court that the continued existence and possible dissemination of information relating to the four grand larceny charges and arrest of petitioner, Sylvia Yvonne Grooms, may cause circumstances that constitute a manifest injustice to said petitioner."

Sharpton's Arizona Mission: Corporate- and Union-Sponsored

Sharpton waves paper photoReverend Al Sharpton has something new to be angry about. Last Friday, April 23, Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation known as "SB1070" requiring law enforcement authorities to ask all criminal suspects to provide evidence of legal U.S. residence. The law is set to take effect 90 days after signing. Sharpton is determined to prevent that from happening. He recently announced his intent to travel to Arizona to stage mass protests against what he says is an assault on Hispanic civil rights.

Staging this campaign will cost money. But "the Rev" doesn't have many worries on this score. His New York-based nonprofit group, National Action Network (NAN), continues to receive financial support from some of the nation's biggest and most well known corporations and unions. This was very much in evidence at NAN's four-day 12th annual conference, his biggest fundraising event of the year, held earlier this month in New York City.

Secretary-Treasurer of Minnesota Rail Workers Local Indicted

LocomotiveOn April 6, Cory Carroll, secretary-treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen's Regional and Shortline Committee of Adjustment, was indicted in Minneapolis federal court for embezzlement. Prosecutors say that during February 2007-March 2009, Carroll, 39, a resident of Albert Lea, illegally diverted about $35,000 from the labor organization to his own use. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

SEIU's Stern Leaves Troubled Legacy

Andrew SternAlmost everyone connected to organized labor by now has heard the news: Andrew Stern soon will resign as president of the Service Employees International Union. His departure in all likelihood will be permanent. And, if somewhat muted, so will the edgy aggression of the union he redefined. Stern made the announcement on April 14 at an SEIU executive board meeting, confirming a flurry of rumors emanating from an internal e-mail sent by Seattle SEIU local leader Diane Sosne. Stern subsequently e-mailed his own members: "There's a time to learn, a time to lead, and then there's a time to leave. And shortly, it will be my time to retire...and end my SEIU journey." The date of departure, though unspecified, will be within a month. Better political instincts suggest Stern will find plenty of ways to keep himself busy.

Bookkeeper for Public School Employees Union in Vermont Pleads Guilty, Sentenced

Amy Cousino was a union employee for only a year. But during that time, she racked up an impressive track record of embezzlement. Cousino, a former bookkeeper for Addison Northeast Supervisory Union (ANESU), pleaded guilty on Monday, April 12 in Vermont District Court in Middlebury to one count of felony embezzlement and one count of misdemeanor petty larceny. She had been charged last June. Cousino received a sentence (suspended) of 30 days to six months, plus five years probation, and was ordered to pay $41,746.91 in restitution, $10,000 of which she paid at sentencing.

Rhode Island Police Union Treasurer Arrested for Embezzlement

Police employees typically help arrest thieves, not become them. For more than five years Douglas Rogers did both. Rogers, a clerk-dispatcher for the North Kingstown, R.I. police department and a former office employee of International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 473, was arrested on April 13 for embezzling more than $150,000 from the union. Rhode Island State Police arrested him at his home and arraigned him at nearby police barracks. He was released on a promise to pay $10,000 in lieu of appearing in court.

Longshoremen Bookkeeper in Los Angeles Sentenced for Thefts

For Rosa Della Porta, the new BMW and other accessories in the end weren't worth it. Della Porta, formerly office manager-bookkeeper for International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 26, was sentenced on March 29 in Los Angeles federal court to 21 months in prison for embezzling well over $100,000 in union funds. She had been convicted by trial jury a year ago following the discovery of a pattern of thefts by local officials and a subsequent federal investigation. Della Porta, who was fired by her union in November 2006, also will have to pay $121,475 in restitution.

Seattle-Area Hospital Workers Local President Pleads Guilty to Thefts

AFGE logoAbout the only thing Sid Mannetti can hope for now is leniency. Mannetti, formerly president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1170, pleaded guilty in Seattle federal court on Thursday, April 8 to embezzling more than $50,000 from his union, which represents about 140 employees at Pacific Medical Centers in the Seattle area. During 2006-08 he diverted funds from the union's credit card and bank account to pay for personal expenses. He had been charged in January. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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