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.

Bailed-Out GM Gives $10 Million for MLK Monument

money flowGeneral Motors has been very benevolent since receiving $50 billion of taxpayer funds less than two years ago. GM, the GM Foundation and Chevrolet are donating more than $10 million towards the building of a Martin Luther King, Jr. monument in Washington, DC. Following is a list of just some of GM and GM Foundation recent giveaways.

  • $40 million for "clean energy projects."
  • $4.5 million for college scholarship programs to benefit students; criteria list includes being female, being a minority or being a military member.
  • $27.1 million to United Way for restructuring of Detroit schools.

Union Bullies Shut Down Wisconsin Legislature

Wisconsin protestGovernment in Wisconsin, one probably has heard by now, is paralyzed. And the ultimate losers may be future generations of taxpayers. Last Thursday, February 17, up to 25,000 protestors, led by public-sector union officials, rallied in the state capital of Madison to intimidate legislators out of voting in favor of new Republican Governor Scott Walker's budget austerity plan, which includes major concessions from unions.

New Jersey Carpenters Business Manager Sentenced for Theft

go-go dancerShawn Clark used his union American Express card to entertain clients at strip clubs. Now the party is officially over. Clark, formerly business agent for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 455 in Somerville, New Jersey, was sentenced on December 9 in Trenton federal court to 28 months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling union funds during a seven-year period. He also will have to make restitution in an amount between $72,000 and $102,000, the exact sum to be determined in court later on. He was convicted by a trial jury back in May.

Government Printing Office Appointee Is Longtime Union Official

Print shopIf union printers are short on work anytime soon, they might call upon the U.S. Government Printing Office to keep them busy. That's because the person now running the agency, William "Bill" Boarman, comes from their ranks. Boarman, previously one of eight sector vice presidents with the Communications Workers of America, last month assumed his duties as GPO head - his formal title is Public Printer of the United States - following a one-year recess appointment on December 29 by President Obama. Like other such appointments, the move bypassed stalled Senate confirmation hearings. Yet given the potential for conflicts of interest, lawmakers may have had good reasons for skepticism.

Chicago SEIU Local Leaders Probed for Terror Links

SEIU logoIt's not every day that an American labor union gets investigated for possible ties to two of the world's most lethal terrorist organizations. But Chicago's Service Employees International Union Local 73 isn't an everyday union. Last September 24, FBI agents raided residences in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan of more than a dozen radical activists in an effort to connect them to the Hamas (Gaza and the West Bank) and FARC (Colombia) guerrilla movements. Two of the occupants were SEIU Local 73 chief steward and executive board member Joe Iosbaker and former local board member-steward Tom Burke. Neither they nor anyone else has been arrested. But as the case unfolds, questions have arisen over the possibility of involvement not only by the activists, but also by elements of the Chicago-based radical network that nurtured President Obama's political ambitions.

Why is Bailed-Out GM Paying Out Bonuses?

autoworkerGeneral Motors will pay its factory workers bonuses of $4,000 each. AP reports that more than $189 million will be paid to UAW workers in addition to salaried workers (management and engineers) bonuses of up to 50% of pay. It is interesting to read the decidedly negative view of GM's actions in comments that are submitted by readers at the end of the AP article. It remains a "tale of two cities", however, when it comes to media coverage (particularly from television journalists) with many commentators refusing to acknowledge the public outrage as GM spends millions of dollars on bonuses while taxpayers and GM bondholders continue to have their rights subordinated to the politically powerful UAW.

Office Manager of Mississippi Plumbers Local Pleads Guilty

PlumberOn February 8, Mechelle Busse, aka Mechelle Singleton, former office manager of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 568, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi to embezzling slightly over $110,000 in funds from the Gulfport union. She had been indicted in August for taking the money during June 2005-December 2007. She originally pleaded not guilty. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Was GM/UAW Behind Toyota Bashing?

One year after federal prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Toyota's unintended acceleration safety issues, a ten month investigation came to the conclusion that there were no electronic flaws that led to accidents involving Toyota vehicles. The causes were attributed to driver error and sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats. These were the exact causes that Toyota pointed to when congressional leaders decided to attack the automaker at a time when General Motors was struggling to regain sales after exiting its bankruptcy.

Steelworkers Financial Secretary in Wisconsin Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn November 23, Nickolas Weihert, formerly financial secretary of Local 4845 of the United Steelworkers, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to three counts of embezzling funds from the Waukesha-based union in the amount of $450. He also was ordered to pay restitution plus a $5,000 fine. Weihert, who had been charged in October, admitted at his plea hearing that he took $17,256. The charge and guilty plea follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Treasury Employees Union Benefits Coordinator Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

On December 7, Tamara Schultz, former benefits coordinator for the National Treasury Employees Union (NTUE), pleaded guilty in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia with one count of theft in the amount of $1,000 or more in property from NTUE headquarters in Washington, D.C. Following her plea, she was sentenced to 90 days in jail (suspended) and one year of unsupervised probation, and was ordered to pay a $50 assessment. She had been charged on November 22. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Wisconsin Maintenance of Way Local Secretary Pleads Guilty

On November 22, Frank Kmiec, former secretary-treasurer for Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Local 2857, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to making false entries in union financial records in connection with his theft of $19,461.39 in union funds. He had been charged on November 2. The local is based in Genoa City, Wisconsin (Kenosha County), just north of the Illinois border. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

CWA Local Treasurer in Pennsylvania Sentenced for Theft

CWA workersOn November 17, Antonio Jordan, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 38187, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to four years probation and ordered to pay $5,778.01 restitution and a $100 assessment for embezzling funds from the Erie-based union. He had been indicted in May and pleaded guilty in August to stealing $8,767.40 by using his union credit card to make unauthorized purchases. The local represents workers at the Erie Newspaper Guild. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Kansas Retail & Wholesale Workers Local Secretary Indicted

RWDSU logoOn November 19, Tammy Allen, former secretary-treasurer of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 184, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on one count of bank fraud totaling $45,766.81. The union represents several hundred workers at the Kellogg's Snack Division plant in Kansas City, Kansas. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

GM's Taxpayer-Funded Ad Spending Spree

General Motors is certainly finding ways to spend the $50 billion taxpayer infusion they received less than two years ago. Anyone watching the Super Bowl witnessed a heavy GM presence with ads running pre-game, game time, post-game and even during a special Chevy sponsored Glee episode afterwards. The Chevy logo was predominately displayed, sometimes taking up nearly half of the TV screen, during the post game show that featured GM benevolently giving a new Chevy Camaro to Super Bowl MVP, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers made about $9 million in 2010, but I'm sure he still appreciates the nice car that taxpayers helped pay for.

Ex-Business Manager of Cleveland Plumbers Local Sentenced

PlumberBribery was Robert Rybak's way of doing business. Unfortunately, business is now closed. On January 20, Rybak, formerly business manager-financial secretary for Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 55, was sentenced in Cleveland federal court to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay full restitution for bribing several persons in the Cleveland area, including a county commissioner, with things of value in return for jobs for union and family members. He had pleaded guilty in October following a joint FBI-IRS-Labor Department investigation. The case was part of a much wider probe into corruption among county officials, employees and contractors.

Modica: Will State & Muni Bondholders Get Crushed to Benefit Unions?

During an appearance on Fox Business Network on Tuesday, NLPC Associate Fellow (and GM bondholder) Mark Modica warned that the GM bankruptcy may provide a model for insolvent states and localities to crush bondholders and taxpayers to protect politically-connected unions. "Follow the Money" host is Eric Bolling. Here's a transcript:

Chrysler Loses Money, Gives UAW Bonuses

bailout graphicChrysler recently reported a 4th quarter loss of $652 million. So what does a UAW majority owned company that is losing money do? How about a bonus for UAW workers?

Current Chrysler ownership breakdown puts the UAW at a 63.5% ownership stake while the US Treasury holds a 9.2% stake. Italy's Fiat currently owns 25%. Bonuses planned for UAW workers are estimated to average $750.

Ex-President of Government Employees Local in Missouri Pleads Guilty

SEIU logoGarold W. Lawson Sr. wrote more than a hundred unauthorized union checks over several years to pay for personal expenses. His good luck streak was bound to run out - and did. Lawson, formerly president of National Association of Government Employees (NAGE, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union) Local R14-139, pleaded guilty on January 6 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri after being charged with embezzling at least $67,566 from the union, which represents several hundred employees of E.D.P. Enterprises, a food services contractor for Fort Leonard Wood Army Base.

Wisconsin Local AFSCME Treasurer Indicted for Embezzlement

AFSCME logoOn November 17, Shari Birch, formerly treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1760-A, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on 21 counts of embezzlement of $16,737.54 from the Superior local, which represents employees at the St. Francis Home in the Park nursing facility. Birch, 39, a resident of Superior, starting in May 2007 allegedly on various occasions deposited member dues checks into her own bank account, partially cashed dues checks for her own use or transferred funds from the local bank account into her own. The indictment follows a joint investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Superior Police Department.

Is Ford's Earnings Miss a Harbinger of a GM Disappointment?

car plunge graphicFord stock is taking a hit today after reporting earnings that missed analysts' estimates. European losses accounted for much of the earnings disappointment. General Motors is also known to have major issues with its European brand, Opel. GM recently assigned Alix Partners to oversee their European unit's "turnaround" plan. Alix Partners is a bankruptcy consulting firm that was hired by GM prior to their own bankruptcy filing. This is just one of many risk factors that have been glossed over by media coverage.

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