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.

Mississippi Food & Commercial Workers Local Official Pleads Guilty, Receives Sentence

Food and Commercial Workers logoOn April 8, Patsy Fontenot, former international representative for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 790C, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi to one year of probation for embezzling $6,943.15 from the Lena, Miss.-based union during November 2002-March 2006. She also was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and a $100 special assessment. Fontenot pled guilty on January 20. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NLRB Sues Boeing; Seeks End to Commercial Jet Production in South Carolina

787 Dreamliner photoThe National Labor Relations Board must have a broad definition of "coercion" when it comes to employers. With unions, the standard seems a lot narrower. On April 20, the board filed a 10-page complaint (see pdf) against Boeing alleging the company's decision in 2009 to locate its second assembly plant in South Carolina represented illegal retaliation against employees belonging to the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM).

Detroit Mayor Seeks Concessions from Unions; Threatens Receivership

Dave Bing photoDave Bing, the mayor of Detroit, knows all about performing under pressure before a crowd. As a Hall of Fame point guard with the Detroit Pistons, he routinely went up against the NBA's best. But as that debt-ridden city's mayor for the last two years, he's become embroiled in a potentially cataclysmic showdown with its four dozen public employee unions. Presenting his proposed 2011-12 budget to the city council before a packed house on April 12, Bing declared that municipal workers must contribute more toward union-negotiated health and pension plans.

Secretary-Treasurer of Arkansas Maintenance of Way Local Pleads Guilty

On April 15, Michael Curry, formerly secretary-treasurer of Local Lodge 1127 of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas to stealing funds from the Texarkana union. According to prosecutors, Curry made unauthorized check withdrawals to himself totaling $6,996.55 from the union bank account to pay off delinquent mortgage and car loans. Released on his own recognizance, he faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Denver AFGE Ex-Local President Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

AFGE logoAll things considered, Heather Lynn Grover is a lucky woman. The former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1557, pleaded guilty in Jefferson County, Colo. district court on April 27 to embezzling roughly $5,500 from the Lakewood-based union. That figure, if anything, was on the low side. She then was sentenced to a two-year diversion after which the felony charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor. AFGE Local 1557 represents about 140 employees of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Denver regional office.

Pittsburgh Iron Workers Bookkeeper Indicted for $400k+ Theft

On April 26, Jennine Prince, former bookkeeper of International Association of Iron Workers Local 3 in Pittsburgh, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania for embezzling $418,070.96 in union funds. Prince, 41, a resident of Hampton Township, Pa., allegedly cashed unauthorized union checks and stole dues payments. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Officials of Alabama Steelworkers Local Indicted

Steelworkers logoOn April 26, Harry Small and Dennis McGee, the respective former secretary-treasurer and president of United Steelworkers Local 9506, were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama for embezzling a combined roughly $34,000 in funds from the Anniston union. Federal prosecutors allege that Small, 54, a resident of Oxford, Ala., embezzled 12 union checks worth a combined $25,820 during August 2008-February 2009. They also allege that McGee, 56, a resident of Eastaboga, Ala., wrote 15 unauthorized union checks totaling about $8,200 during September 2008-February 2009. The indictments follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Corrupt CWA Local in New York City in Turmoil, Under Monitor

CWA demonstratorsFor years the leaders of New York City's Communications Workers of America Local 1101 have treated their union as a personal ATM machine. Now three dissenting board members have decided to deactivate it. The result has been virtual civil war - and a bit of supreme irony. The CWA national executive board recently appointed a monitor to oversee the affairs of the local. Triggering this action was the release on March 24 of a dissenters' internal report indicating that top officers and executive board members had engaged in "a number of highly questionable practices involving compensation." It's the second recent scandal at the Staten Island-based union, most of whose 7,000 members work for Verizon.

Ex-SEIU Official Caught on Tape Revealing Economic Destabilization Plan

Andrew SternStephen Lerner is a hard person to admire. His specialty, after all, is economic sabotage. Yet his utility to the cause of public accountability is undeniable. Lerner, a longtime official with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) until his supposed ouster last November, was caught on March 18 and 19 on audiotape speaking before a closed-session audience at Pace University in Manhattan describing an SEIU plan to destabilize the U.S. economy. The campaign, which he heads, intends to take down the financial sector and trigger a massive redistribution of wealth and power.

Michigan Plumbers Local Secretary Charged with Embezzlement

PlumberOn January 13, April Franklin, former office secretary of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 333 and former bookkeeper for the union's apprenticeship training fund, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan with thefts totaling slightly over $275,000 from the two labor organizations. She allegedly stole $40,886 from the Lansing-based union and $234,331.33 from the training fund. The charges follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Former Glass Workers President in Florida Sentenced

Glass Workers (GMP)  On February 2, Karl Youngerman, former president of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union Local 208, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida to five years probation for conspiracy to embezzle funds from the Bradenton union in the amount of $18,218.91. He also was ordered to pay restitution in that amount to Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland. Youngerman had pleaded guilty in November. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Chevy Volt Suspected of Causing House Fire

The quality and safety concerns continue to surface at General Motors as officials investigate the likelihood that a Chevy Volt started a fire in a Connecticut home that devastated the garage where the vehicle was being charged. This story was reported by a local Eyewitness News team on Thursday and has not received widespread media coverage. This follows a GM recall of the Chevy Cruze that was necessitated after a steering wheel broke off of one of the vehicles traveling at highway speeds and endangered the family traveling in the car.

UAW and GM Get Covert Bailout Through ObamaCare

The Obama Administration continues to find ways to funnel taxpayer funds to General Motors and the UAW. A hidden bailout was recently uncovered buried within the Obamacare bill. This latest giveaway goes by the name of "Early Retiree Reinsurance Program" or ERRP for short. Washingtonexaminer.com reported last week that the program was discovered by investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rail and Airline Unions Push Congress to Maintain Voting Edge

Railroad trainIn any industry, one thing is certain about unions: They want members - the more, the better. Railroad and airline unions are no exceptions. Right now they are gearing up for a campaign to persuade Congress to rescind a provision in the House version of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill (H.R.658), which passed last Friday. Title IX of the measure reverses last year's regulatory change by the three-member National Mediation Board - the entity that interprets the Railway Labor Act - that allows a union to win recognition without necessarily obtaining majority support.

Ballet Union Lawyer in New York Indicted for Embezzlement

"Swan Lake"Leonard Leibowitz, a Manhattan lawyer, was a hardball labor negotiator in the world of high art. More than ever he needs to make legal defense - his own - into high art. Leibowitz, now 72, was indicted on March 15 in Manhattan federal court on charges of withdrawing more than $350,000 in unauthorized funds from a union representing several dozen dancers and stagehands at the American Ballet Theater (ABT), housed at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center. He's also accused of falsifying union financial reports. The labor organization, known as Independent Artists of America (IAA), no longer exists, its members having re-affiliated with their former union, the American Guild of Musical Artists.

Steelworkers Financial Secretary in Indiana Indicted for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn January 12, Jesse Daniels, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 7-1011S, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana for embezzling $19,500 from the East Chicago, Ind.-based union. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Arkansas Iron Workers Secretary Charged with Embezzlement; Pleads Guilty

On January 6, Heather Hill, former office secretary of International Association of Iron Workers Local 321 in Little Rock, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas with embezzling $59,653.12 in funds from the union apprenticeship training fund during November 2007-September 2009. She then pleaded guilty and agreed to repay the union $59,142.12. She faces up to five years in prison. The charge and guilty plea follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former President of Maine Health Care Local Sentenced

AFT logoDenial isn't an option for Benardette Beal anymore. On February 24, Beal, former president of Downeast Federation of Healthcare Professionals Local 5073, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine to eight months in prison and two years of supervised release for embezzling $25,536.91 in union funds over a six-year period. She also was ordered to pay $24,131.32 in restitution plus a $100 special assessment.

Central California Machinists Secretary Indicted for Thefts

Machinists logoTracy Ford may have had a drug problem. Just as likely, she had a theft problem. Ford, formerly secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists Local 1528, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California on February 10 with embezzling nearly $175,000 from the Modesto union and submitting false financial reports to conceal her thefts. She had been indicted on two counts by a federal grand jury. If convicted, she faces a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Former Oklahoma Laborers Business Manager Sentenced

LIUNA logoOn January 14, Donna Cooper, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 888, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to five months in prison followed by three years supervised release, with the first five months to be spent in home detention. She also will have to pay more than $59,000 in restitution. She pleaded guilty in July to embezzling $69,322 from the Tahlequah union. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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