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.

Steelworkers Ex-Local President in Detroit Pleads Guilty

Steelworkers logoOn June 14, Jerrold King, former president of United Steelworkers Local 842, pled guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of concealing records from the Detroit union. He had been charged in March. The guilty plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New Jersey Operating Engineers Local President Pleads Guilty to Kickbacks, Theft

Operating EngineersDennis Giblin at least can be glad that theft of services doesn't run in the family. It's unlikely he would have gotten his job with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 68 otherwise. On Monday, August 9, Giblin, former president of the local and scion of a powerful New Jersey union and political family, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to receiving kickbacks and embezzling in connection with a business transaction during his tenure as head of the West Caldwell, N.J.-based union's job training and education program. He had been arrested in January 2009.

Former Michigan Steelworkers Local Secretary Charged

Steelworkers logoOn June 11, Barbara Gallagher, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 2-1007, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with one count of making a false statement in union financial records for 2005. The union is based in Howell, Mich., west of Detroit. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Firefighters President in Missouri Charged, Pleads Guilty

On June 4, Aaron Hunter, former president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 108F in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri with one count of making false statements to conceal his embezzlement of union funds. He then pleaded guilty. The charge and plea follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Wisconsin Textile Workers Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

UNITE HERE logoOn June 8, Kathy Oatman, former secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 228, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin to embezzling $4,662 in funds from the Eau Claire union. She also will have to make full restitution. The local belongs to a breakaway faction of UNITE (textile and laundry workers), Americans United, which affiliated in 2009 with the Service Employees International Union. The guilty plea follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ohio Musicians Local Employee Pleads Guilty, Sentenced

On June 24, LaDonna Turner, formerly an employee with American Federation of Musicians Local 1 in Cincinnati, was sentenced in Hamilton County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas to three years probation and ordered to make restitution in the amount of $15,800. She also will have to undergo random drug testing. Turner had pleaded guilty on June 3 to three counts of check forgery. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Western Michigan UAW Bookkeeper Pleads Guilty to Thefts

United Auto Workers strikersRobbin Wolff went robbin' union funds for four years. She may wind up spending even more time in prison. Wolff, former bookkeeper for United Auto Workers Local 383, pleaded guilty on July 28 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to embezzling more than $200,000 from the Benton Harbor local and falsifying union records afterward. Wolff faces a five-year sentence this October 28 for embezzlement and a one-year sentence for records fraud.

NLRB Opens Door to Stealth Card Check Despite Becker's Conflict of Interest

Becker photoIn placing radical union lawyer Craig Becker on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) via recess appointment this past March, President Obama may have unleashed a more potent weapon to advance organized labor's interests than even he realized at the time. In a 3-2 decision on August 27, the board voted to review its ruling of three years ago, Dana Corporation [351 NLRB No. 28 (2007)], which granted dissenting workers the right to undo a successful (i.e., employer-recognized) union card check campaign. The board thus has given unions new ammunition for realizing its top priority of forcing, and not simply authorizing, employers to recognize majority-vote union card check campaigns under the guise of "employee choice." A separate but related issue is why Becker was allowed to cast a vote at all, given his conflict of interest in the case.

Las Vegas Operating Engineers Clerk Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Operating engineersOn May 27, Cheryl Staley, former dues clerk of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada to embezzling funds from the union in the amount of $231,653.89 and falsifying records. The union is based in Los Angeles, but maintains an office in Las Vegas where Staley had worked. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Financial Secretary in Ohio Indicted for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn June 3, Stephanie Marhefka, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 905, was indicted in the Ashtabula County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas on one charge of theft in an amount of slightly over $1,500 and one charge of tampering with evidence. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pittsburgh Electrical Workers Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Theft

IBEW logoOn June 1, Thomas Carrola, former secretary-treasurer of Local 1919 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to one count of embezzling $35,057.70 in funds from the Pittsburgh-based union. He had been indicted in July 2009. The guilty plea follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ohio Communications Workers Local President Charged

On May 26, Gilbert Woods, former president of Communications Workers of America Local 84-768, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio with making false entries in the records of the Kettering (near Dayton) union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NYC Sandhogs Embezzler Faces Sky-High Legal Bills

SandhogsMelissa King is learning about the high cost of services. And this time, she's paying rather than collecting. Ms. King, former benefits administrator for New York's Laborers International Union of North America Local 147, was indicted by a Manhattan federal grand jury this past February for fleecing union benefit plans to the tune of more than $40 million to feed an insatiable appetite for material things. It is one of the largest embezzlement cases in American labor history, if not the largest. Recently, she complained about the distinct possibility that mounting a legal defense could cost at least $5 million. Very few, if any, observers are working up much sympathy for the defendant.

Boston-Area Fireman Charged; Alleges Threat by Union President

FirefightersKevin Howard has been on sick leave for the last several months, but he may wind up on permanent leave. On August 11, a U.S. District Court in Lynn, Massachusetts, determined that there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against Howard, a veteran firefighter and acting fire chief for the nearby community of Nahant, for multiple acts of embezzlement. The action was in response to a similar complaint filed earlier in the month by his union, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2718. In a separate action, Howard last month obtained a restraining order against a fellow firefighter whom he alleged had threatened to shoot him.

Why Are Media Ignoring Trumka's Background?

Barack Obama and Richard TrumkaBarack Obama, like any Democratic president, has serious IOUs to labor unions. And AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, more than any other labor leader, is one ally he can't afford to alienate. About the last thing Obama wants, especially as his party faces heavy losses in congressional elections this November, is the subject of Trumka's lengthy track record of aggression and corruption to come up. Major media, for the most part, have obliged him in the wake of the round of speeches yesterday at the Milwaukee Area Labor Council Laborfest, making little or mention of inconvenient facts. It isn't as if Obama or top members of his administration are complaining.

Pennsylvania Newspaper Guild Treasurer Pleads Guilty

On August 5, Antonio Jordan, formerly treasurer for the Erie Newspaper Guild, also known as Communications Workers of America 38187, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to embezzling $8,767.40 from the union. Jordan, now 38, during March 2005-February 2009 allegedly had used his union credit card for personal expenditures. He was indicted this past May. Sentencing is scheduled for November 22.

Minnesota Regional Official of Rail Union Pleads Guilty

Locomotive trainCleveland headquarters isn't the only place at the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) where corruption seems to have occurred. On July 27, Cory Carroll, formerly secretary-treasurer of the union's Regional and Shortline General Committee of Adjustment, pleaded guilty in St. Paul federal court to embezzling $35,000 in BLET funds. He had been indicted in April. According to prosecutors, Carroll, now 39, a resident of Albert Lea, Minn., during February 2007-March 2009 illegally charged personal expenses to his union credit card and claimed lost wages for days in which he was not absent. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New York Contractor Close to Mob, Carpenters Set for Trial

Carpenters at workReaders of Union Corruption Update know that the New York City District Council of Carpenters and member locals have been plagued by corruption - and prosecutions. So far at least nine defendants have copped a plea following a lengthy federal probe. Ousted District boss Michael Forde pleaded guilty late in July to racketeering and faces an 11-year sentence. A former Carpenters Local 608 steward, Michael Brennan, pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges that month, as did an ex-president of that local, John Greaney. Less known perhaps is that these and other Carpenters officials allegedly lined their pockets with key help from developer Joseph Olivieri. When Olivieri goes on trial in October for conspiracy, bribery and perjury, he's sure to face tough questions about his reported go-between role for the union and the Genovese crime family.

Laborers Field Rep in Pennsylvania Sentenced for Thefts

Laborers logoOn May 10, Gary Day, former field representative of Laborers International Union of North America Local 1180, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to three years probation for embezzling funds from the Harrisburg union. He also was ordered to pay $10,518 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. Day pled guilty in January. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Northern California Glass Workers Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Theft

Glass Workers logoOn May 10, Curtis Iwatsubo, former financial secretary-treasurer of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union Local 52, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to one count of embezzling funds from the Santa Clara local in the amount of $48,434.50. He had been charged in March after having made more than 80 unauthorized withdrawals with his union ATM card and subsequently concealing the thefts on union financial statements. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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