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.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Collective Bargaining Curbs

Madison, Wisconsin demonstratorsPublic-sector unions in Wisconsin are having a hard time hiding their rage over the most recent round in the state's fiscal war. Last Tuesday, June 14, by a 4-3 margin, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a new law curbing collective bargaining rights for most state and local employees, part of a larger (passed) budget bill. The decision overturns a permanent injunction issued May 26 by Dane County (Madison) Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi blocking the law on grounds that Senate Republicans violated the state Open Meetings Law.

More Bad News for the Chevy Volt

Volt photoAs General Motors gambles on ramping up production of the Chevy Volt, a couple of new reports point to headwinds for demand of electric hybrid vehicles, like the Volt. A new British study disputes the perception of eco-friendliness of electric vehicles. The study takes into consideration driving, manufacturing and disposal and undermines the case being made for a rapid introduction of electric vehicles as a means to address environmental concerns.

Alabama Postal Workers President Indicted for Embezzlement

APWU logoOn June 1, Albert Gardner, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 359, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama for embezzling $12,346 from the Madison, Ala.-based union. Gardner, 48, a resident of Huntsville, allegedly stole the funds during June 2006-June 2007. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Detroit Mail Handlers Local President Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

LIUNA logoOn March 14, Donald Kister, former president of National Postal Mail Handlers Local 307 in Detroit, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to embezzling $4,137.35 in union funds during August 2006-October 2007. The Mail Handlers are an affiliate of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA). Kister had been indicted last September. The indictment and guilty plea follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Treasurer in New Jersey Sentenced for Thefts

APWU logoOn May 24, John McGovern, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 190, was sentenced in Newark, New Jersey federal court to 20 months in prison to be followed by 36 months of supervised release. He had pleaded guilty in November 2010 to conspiring with ex-local President Gary Weightman to embezzle some $200,000 in funds from the Clifton, N.J.-based union during 2000-02 and concealing the thefts by destroying financial records. McGovern, 55, a resident of Hawthorne, N.J., stole an estimated $140,000, and was ordered to pay $783,931 in total restitution. Weightman pleaded guilty to a separate tax evasion charge in December 2008 and is awaiting sentencing. Each had been indicted in February 2006 following a joint investigation by the Labor Department, the Justice Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Is GM Feeding Rumors About its Finances?

There are some big rumors circulating about the finances of bailed-out General Motors. The first of these is that GM is considering repurchasing Treasury's stake in the automaker and were circulated by sources who, according to a Bloomberg report, "didn't want to be identified." The message was that GM is so cash-rich that they were considering buying back shares from Treasury, thus eliminating the government overhang on the company. This stance raises questions about past actions at GM. Why did GM issue $2 billion of new stock to help fund pension plans if they have adequate cash to do so? Why did GM's wholly owned finance arm need to issue half a billion dollars of junk bonds for "general purposes" if they are so flush with cash?

Convicted New York-New Jersey Port Authority Union Boss May Get Second Chance

Holland TunnelThe case against Daniel Hughes seemed airtight the last time around. That's why he pled guilty a year ago to fraud. But the former boss of the union representing maintenance workers for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey might have to go through the motions again. On the upside, he might walk. On May 6, Hughes, a Port Authority employee as well as ex-president of Port Authority Field Supervisors Association Local 111-S, appeared in Brooklyn federal court to receive word that his union might not be covered under the law used to charge him with stealing nearly $300,000 in local funds. If he pleads not guilty this time, prosecutors would charge Hughes with wire fraud. And it's hard to see an outcome any different.

Olivieri Sentenced for Role in Carpenters Union-Contractor Scam

Dirty moneyCorrupt construction union officials in the New York City area knew they had no better friend than Joseph Olivieri. That relationship formally ended last October when a jury in Manhattan federal court declared him guilty of perjury as part of a scheme to line union bosses' pockets with would-be benefit contributions. Last Friday, June 3, Olivieri, the former head of a Long Island-based construction trade association, received his reward: an 18-month prison sentence plus three years of supervised release. He was one of 10 defendants convicted in the case and the eighth to be sentenced, though he was the only one to go to trial. Olivieri also will have to pay a $10,000 fine.

Akerson Wants $5 Gas; CEO Unfit to Lead Bailed-Out GM

gas price signGeneral Motor's CEO, Dan Akerson, wants higher gas taxes and the price of a gallon of gas to increase closer to $5 a gallon. Are you kidding me?! The comments were made in an interview with the Detroit News. Regarding government imposed fuel efficiency increases Akerson stated, "You know what I'd rather have them do, this will make my Republican friends puke, as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas. People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans." With comments like these, Akerson might make average Americans and GM investors "puke" along with those Republicans.

Laborers President in St. Louis Indicted for Embezzlement

LIUNA logoOn March 9, Mark Winston, former president of Laborers International Union of North America, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri for embezzling $11,057 in funds from the St. Louis union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Wisconsin Letter Carriers Local President Charged with Theft

On March 3, Nancy Kumbier, former president of Branch 1144 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, was charged in Green Lake County, Wisconsin Circuit Court with theft of between $2,500 and $5,000 from the Berlin, Wisc.-based union. The complaint follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers President in Ohio Sentenced for Records Fraud

Steelworkers logoOn March 3, Ellsworth Williamson, former president of United Steelworkers Local 1967, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to one year probation and was ordered to pay $2,293 in restitution and a $25 assessment for filing a false financial report. He pled guilty in December. The union is based in Hamilton, near Cincinnati. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

GM China Sales Fall as CEO Cites 'Cultural Revolution'

Akerson photo"Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, Mao Zedong and Chevrolet." That could be GM's new slogan if recent comments by CEO Dan Akerson are taken to heart. Akerson shared a somewhat bizarre vision for GM in an interview with the Detroit News when he stated, "Whoever comes after me; it's going to be a more important appointment than mine because he or she will have to carry on a cultural revolution here. It's just like the Communist Party in China in the 1960s, there has to be a cultural revolution here." These comments come just weeks after the Washington Times reported GM's sponsorship of a Chinese Communist Party propaganda film.

NYC Bus Drivers Union President Sentenced for Extortion

School busOn March 3, Warren Annunziata, founder and former presidnet of United Craft and Industrial Workers Union Local 91, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to 33 months in prison and two years supervised release for extorting more than $600,000 in cash payments from employers and forging his identity to obtain tens of thousands of dollars more from another employer. He had been indicted in February 2010, and pleaded guilty in July 2010. Local 91 represents about 2,000 drivers, escorts and other employees of bus companies that serve public school students in New York City and parts of neighboring Westchester County, N.Y. In addition to doing time, Annunziata also was ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution and asset forfeiture.

President of CWA Affiliate in New York City Sentenced

Times Square at night On January 5, Wayne Mitchell, former longtime president of Communications Workers of America Local 14170, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to two years in federal prison to be followed by three years supervised release for embezzling funds from the New York City union, also known as Mailers Local 6, which represents mailroom employees at several area daily newspapers. He also will have to pay restitution in the amount of $373,555. Mitchell pleaded guilty in April 2010. During October 2004-May 2008, prosecutors charged, he wrote himself about $250,000 worth of payroll checks to himself and diverted more than $100,000 in union funds for personal expenses. Mitchell's successor, Larry DeAngelis, also pled guilty last April to embezzling some $60,000 in union funds.

Arkansas Steelworkers Local Treasurer Indicted for Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn March 2, Peggy Bolen, former treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 898, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas for embezzling $61,541 in funds from the Redfield, Ark.-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Transit Union Secretary in South Dakota Indicted for Embezzlement; Pleads Guilty

On April 21, Terri Dunkelberger, former financial secretary-treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1356, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota to one count of a superseding indictment of embezzling $11,648.98 from the Sioux Falls-based union. She had been indicted on March 2 on charges of stealing more than $4,000, which was in addition to her indictment in June 2010 for theft of $24,148.98 in union funds. The charges and guilty plea follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Detroit-Area AFSCME President Charged with Records Fraud; Pleads Guilty

AFSCME logoOn May 2, William Edwards, former president of Local 1820 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with willfully failing to maintain accurate records of lost time claims made by him and others resulting in him receiving $3,656.02 in unauthorized funds from the Pontiac union. He had been charged on March 1. The guilty plea and charge follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Obama Ballyhoos Auto Bailout as Economy Tanks

GM logoToday's jobs' report raises worries that the US may be headed for a double dip recession. Jobs creation was much lower than expected and the unemployment rate rose to 9.1%. And where is President Obama? Traveling to Ohio to brag about how many jobs were saved by spending billions of taxpayer dollars to bail out the auto industry. Oh well, Nero fiddled, Obama campaigns. While Obama tries to convince the majority of people who will be voting in 2012 that auto bailouts are a wonderful thing, individual investors in General Motors should consider the specific risks the company faces if the economy does not improve.

Ex-Treasurer of AFSCME Local in Wisconsin Pleads Guilty, Sentenced

AFSCME logoOn May 11, Shari Birch, former treasurer of Local 1760-A of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin to two years probation, six months to be served in home detention, and pay full restitution for embezzling $16,734 from the Superior union. She pleaded guilty on February 25. The plea and sentencing follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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