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.

Postal Workers Regional Chieftain in Texas Charged with Thefts

Postal Workers logoFrankie Sanders liked New Orleans - or so it seemed.  And he wanted his union to reimburse him for hotel stays there. The problem is that many, if not all, of those stays weren't real. Sanders, former Southern Region Coordinator for the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas with embezzlement and wire fraud following the unveiling of a two-count grand jury indictment on March 17. The southern region, one of five representing a grand total of 262,000 postal employees, is based in Houston.

Obama Bypasses Senate; Appoints Becker to NLRB

NLRB's Peter Schaumber and Wilma LiebmanBarack Obama and organized labor have made no secret about promoting each other's interests. Indeed, his 2008 presidential victory would have been much more difficult in absence of union financial contributions and volunteer work. Thus, Obama's recess appointment Saturday of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, effectively overriding a Senate Republican filibuster last month, served as a political IOU as well as an expression of the president's will. Becker, currently a top union lawyer, has argued that workers should not have any right to opt out of union representation. Moreover, he's counseled a large local union founded as a subsidiary of the corrupt and soon-to-be-extinct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Becker was one of 15 White House Easter recess appointments that included a less controversial NLRB nominee, Mark Pearce, who, like Becker, is a Democrat.

Armored Car Union Local Treasurer in Wisconsin Pleads Guilty, Sentenced

On February 25, Timmy Peltier, former secretary-treasurer of Independent Loomis Security Employees Union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to making a false statement or representation of a material fact on the union's annual 2006 and 2007 financial reports to the U.S. Department of Labor. He then was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay $6,237 in restitution and a $50 special assessment. The union is based in Cudahy, a suburb of Milwaukee. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Government Employees Treasurer in Minnesota Charged with Theft

AFGE logoIn February 17, Jeffrey Ver Meer, formerly treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 169, was charged in Olmsted County District Court with one count of theft in an amount of over $5,000 from the Rochester, Minn. union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New York City School Bus Inspector Sentenced for Role in Scheme

School busMilton Smith is headed for prison. And his sentencing marks the conclusion of a Mafia-backed scheme dating back to the mid-Nineties that used members of a bus drivers union to steal from the New York City school system and affiliated contractors. On February 11, Smith, a former city bus inspector, received a sentence of 15 months in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for extortion and bribe-taking. The actions were in relation to a federally-subsidized special education program. He also will have to serve three years of supervised release and pay $21,000 in restitution. The maypole of the scam, Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, since has undergone a leadership change following a trusteeship imposed by union headquarters.

Ohio Transit Employee Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty

Transit busOn February 12, Lisa Wright, former secretary-treasurer for the Transit Employees Union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to one count of embezzling $71,470.50 from the Bedford, Ohio union. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-New York Teamster Boss Pleads Guilty to Corruption

Teamster President James P. HoffaAnthony Rumore treated union members as though they were personal servants. He's now likely to be serving some prison time in the near future. Rumore, former longtime president of the Scarsdale, N.Y.-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 812 and Teamster District Joint Council 16, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on February 11 to making a false statement related to his coercion of various rank-and-file members to perform free labor for him. He initially had pleaded not guilty following his December 2007 arrest for extortion and embezzlement.

St. Louis Laborers President Charged with False Record-Keeping

Laborers logoOn February 16, Angela Jones, former president of Laborers International Union of North America Local 509, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri with one count of making false entries in union records related to her misuse of $5,000 in funds from the St. Louis union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Wisconsin Boilermakers Ex-Local President Pleads Guilty

On February 11, Warren Demmin, former president of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local Lodge 449, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to embezzling $169.12 in funds from the Sturgeon Bay union. He had been indicted in November for theft of $681.44. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Rail Employees Local Secretary-Treasurer in Colorado Indicted

The checks Peter Maisel Jr. wrote weren't large, but there were plenty enough of them to get him indicted. Maisel, formerly secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Local Lodge 1517, was charged in Denver federal court with embezzling $10,124 from the Pueblo union. The indictment, made public on February 9, indicates Maisel, 53, during May-August 2009 wrote 141 unauthorized checks and diverted them to his own purposes. The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, a division of the Teamsters Rail Conference, represents workers who build and maintain railroad tracks. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Michigan Electrical Workers Local Treasurer Ordered to Pay Fine

Electrical Workers logoOn February 8, Carolyn Williams, former secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 352, was ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to pay a $1,000 fine and a $100 special assessment. She previously had made restitution to the Lansing union in the amount of $9,554.14 after pleading guilty in October to embezzlement. The sentencing follows a probe by the labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Right to Work Group Files Lawsuit Calling for Labor Department Disclosure

Labor Secretary Hilda SolisLike any cabinet-level agency, the U.S. Department of Labor under the Obama administration has its share of political cronies. And the department has given more than a few indications that it intends to remake DOL into a vehicle for union advocacy. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) for the past year has sought the full story. It's one of the less publicized aspects of the apparent lack of accountability in the current administration. This past December, attorneys for the Springfield, Va.-based foundation filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court demanding the Labor Department release information in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request NRTW had filed last April seeking facts about lobbying and other activities by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (see photo) and other ranking officials. Raising further the distinct possibility that the DOL has not complied with the law is a recent article in the Washington Times summarizing how the Obama administration has gutted as many union transparency rules as possible.

NYC Laborers Benefits Manager Indicted for $42 Million Theft

SandhogsThe indictment of Melissa King may have been a formality, but members of the union from which she allegedly stole on a staggering scale are satisfied all the same. On February 17, King, former longtime benefits administrator of Laborers International Union of North America Local 147, better known as the "Sandhogs," was indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzling more than $40 million from three benefit funds sponsored by the New York City tunnel-diggers union. She had been arrested on November 30 and charged the following day in Manhattan federal court. Such are the consequences of a ceaseless quest for the high life.

Employee of Cincinnati UNITE HERE Local Sentenced for Theft

UNITE HERE logoOn February 2, Donald Spell, former employee of Local 12 of UNITE HERE, the restaurant and garment employees union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to two years of probation for embezzling funds from the Cincinnati local. He also was ordered to pay full restitution in the amount of $16,422.83 plus a special assessment of $100. He had pleaded guilty last October. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Las Vegas Machinists Secretary-Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement

On February 1, Hugo Vargas, formerly secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 845, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada with embezzling $106,293.59 from the Las Vegas union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Financial Secretary of South Carolina Steelworkers Local Sentenced

Steelworkers logoChristina Geathers probably hasn't endeared herself to rank and file with United Steelworkers Local 357. That's because much of her income represented stolen dues. Geathers, formerly local financial secretary-treasurer with the Georgetown, South Carolina union, was sentenced on March 8 in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to time served to be followed by three years of supervised release, of which 16 months must be served in home confinement. She also will have to pay restitution.

Texas Building & Construction Trades Council Treasurer Sentenced

On January 28, Danny Tilley, former executive secretary-treasurer of the Texas State Building & Construction Trades Council, was sentenced in federal court to three years probation for embezzling $9,719.11 from the Austin-based AFL-CIO affiliate. He pleaded guilty in April. The sentencing follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Financial Secretary of Georgia Steelworkers Local Indicted for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn January 28, Johnny Banes, formerly financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 2401, was indicted in the Superior Court of Cobb County, Georgia on one count of theft of $38,329 in funds from the Mableton, Ga. union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Montana Painters Local Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

PaintersFor almost two and a half years, Tammy Smith used her union as a cash dispensary. She now wishes she hadn't. On February 17, Smith, former secretary of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1922 in Billings, Montana, pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling more than $11,000. Smith, 40, a resident of Billings, began working for the local in 2002. According to federal prosecutors from May 2004 until December 2006 Smith diverted dues payments into a personal bank account and wrote union checks to herself or to cash. At her May 19 sentencing, she faces a maximum five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

New York State Public Employees Union President Charged

John Vinson isn't the only former local official within New York State's mammoth Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), an AFSCME affiliate, to be in recent trouble for embezzlement. Rank-and-file members no doubt hope he'll be the last. Vinson, president of CSEA Local 659, was arrested by state police on Wednesday, February 17, and charged with embezzling more than $70,000 from the Albany union. He was arraigned in Albany City Court and released on $10,000 bond.

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