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.

More Honors for Prosecutors of Coia

In addition to two Asst. U.S. Attorneys in Boston name in the last Union Corruption Update,  the U.S. Dep't of Justice has honored four federal prosecutors from Chicago for arguably helping to clean up the Laborers' Int'l Union of N. Am. Among thirty-one individuals receiving the Atty. Gen.'s Distinguished Service Award in a ceremony in Washington on July 28 for their work on a number of matters were First Asst. U.S. Atty. Gary S. Shapiro; Thomas P. Walsh, chief of the Civil Division in the U.S. Atty.'s Office; and Asst. U.S. Attys. Craig A. Oswald and David D. Buvinger. All are from the U.S. Atty.'s Office for the N. Dist. of Ill.

The four were recognized for their efforts in a decade-long battle to remove the corrupting influence of organized crime from LIUNA. Oswald and Buvinger had the primary responsibility for day-to-day involvement in monitoring union activities and reform efforts. Walsh and Shapiro were more involved in negotiations with union lawyers and others to make these measures work. [Chi. Daily L. Bull. 8/1/00]

Colorado Locals Cited for Picket Misconduct

National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge Thomas Michael Patton issued Aug. 2 findings of labor law violations stemming from allegations of picket line misconduct by the United Steelworkers of Am. in a Oct.  1997 strike against  Rocky Mountain Steel Mills, Inc., formerly CF&I Steel, in Pueblo, Colo. Patton recommended that NLRB order the USWA and Locals 2102 and 3267 to cease and desist from misconduct at RMSM, including threatening employees and others entering or leaving the facilities and other misconduct as described in some 38 violations alleged by RMSM.

"The record shows that the union had knowledge of the misconduct [at] the picket line," Patton wrote. "[I]dentified [union] agents were...observers of misconduct and in some cases, personally participated in the misconduct."  According to Patton, during the strike, union agents and members placed nails or other objects on the road leading to and from the facility and otherwise blocked entry into the facility.

Rhode Island Unionists Accused of Perjury

Johnston, Rhode Island, Mayor, William R. Macera, Macera has asked R.I.'s Attorney General to determine whether five firefighters committed perjury during an arbitration hearing in Apr. 2000. In a July 13 letter to Atty. Gen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Macera alleged that the witnesses who testified on behalf of the Int'l Ass'n of Fire Fighters Local 1950 did so in a clearly false manner,

Macera called the conduct unacceptable and an affront to the people of the town of Johnston. Macera also wrote that this type of blatant lying under oath undermines the integrity of the adversarial process and the effective administration of justice.

The subject was an arbitration decision issued in the case of five firefighters suspended for two days for parking in a no-parking zone at department headquarters. The five are Capt. Arthur Moretti, Lt., Anthony Mazzulla, Lt., Thomas Ricci and Privates Donato Paolucci and Stephen Hart.

New Orleans May Go to Bat for Union

The following excerpts are from a Aug. 3, editorial in the Times-Picayune: "No Free Ride for Hotel Union":

 

"New Orleans officials shouldn't try to tell hotel companies how to run their businesses, and they certainly shouldn't take sides in potential disputes between management and union organizers. Yet the New Orleans City Council is poised to do just that when it takes up a zoning variance for the proposed J.W. Marriott hotel project on Canal Street. Included in the ordinance is a demand for a "labor peace agreement" -- an agreement that would force management to accommodate a union organizing drive in some manner.

The council ought to strike that demand and consider the rest of the ordinance on its merits. Existing federal laws govern how employers can react to union organizing campaigns, and there's no reason New Orleans should require hotel developers to follow different -- and less favorable -- rules.

California Unions Blocked from Collecting Agency Fees

U.S. Dist. Judge Charles Legge blocked Aug. 8 the California Teachers Ass'n and eight local school districts from collecting union agency fees from nonmembers unless the union and districts report local unions' expenditures. Legge granted a motion by the National Right to Work Foundation in its lawsuit contesting the forced payment of union dues and CTA's use of the dues, including political expenditures.

Two Unionists Running for Congress

Militant unions can make a difference in the political arena by electing the right Democrats to office, which is why two members of the United Steelworkers of Am. are running for Congress, USWA President George Becker said
Aug. 7. Becker alleged that the problems members face, such as jobs being lost because of businesses moving to foreign countries, require a political solution, Becker told delegates to USWA's thirty convention. That is why the Becker is pulling out all the stops to get USWA members elected, he said.

Democrat Greg Goodnight, who works at a specialty steel manufacturer in Kokomo, Ind., is challenging incumbent Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.). In Pa., Ed O'Brien, the ex-boss of a Bethlehem Steel local, is challenging incumbent Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

A third USWA member, Marvin Williams, a Democratic forklift driver in Tenn., was defeated in an Aug. 3 primary in his bid to unseat six-term incumbent Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.). USWA was targeting Tanner for defeat because he was one of 73 Democrats who voted to grant China permanent normal trade relations. [BNA 8/8/00]

New York Boss Indicted in Scalping Ring

Ticket Agents' Union Local F-72 president Frank Greenwald was one of sixteen individuals indicted July 24 in an alleged ticket scalping ring by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert Morgenthau and N.Y. Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer. The alleged conspiracy, composed of ticket brokers and Mets and Yankees box-office employees, scalped tickets with a face value of over $300,000 in 2000 alone.

Reportedly, the box-office employees took bribes from the brokers in return for handing over thousands of prime baseball tickets, including seats to the 1999 World Series. The brokers would resell the tickets or funnel them to street scalpers at large markups. A disgruntled fan tipped off officials after he recognized a guy selling tickets behind a box-office window as the same guy who had previously scalped a ticket to him outside the stadium.

Greenwald's brother Richard, a union member, was also indicted. Both worked in the Yankees box-office. The 15-month probe resulted in charges ranging from misdemeanor bribing to second-degree grand larceny. [N.Y. Post 7/25/00]

Boss Coia's Prosecutors Honored

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alex Whiting and Ernest DiNisco received the Distinguished Service Award for their prosecution of Arthur A. Coia, ex-boss of the Laborers' Int'l Union of N. Am., who pled guilty to tax fraud in Jan. 2000. The prosecutors were among 13 from Boston and 190 nationally who were honored in an awards ceremony July 28 in Washington by Atty. Gen. Janet Reno.

"I am extremely proud of the extraordinary work done by members of the U.S. Attorney's office," said U.S. Atty. for the Dist. of Mass. Donald Stern. "These awards are given to very few persons nationally, and the number received by individuals in our office indicates the very high level of commitment and professionalism we always hope to achieve." [Boston Herald 7/30/00]

New Jersey Boss Pleads Guilty to Theft

Michael Opalenik, president of Policemen's Benevolent Ass'n Local 175 in Long Beach Island, N.J., pled guilty July 14 to stealing at least $500 from the local for personal use between Jan. 1998 and Dec. 1999. He admitted withdrawing funds with a debit card from an account that included union dues and public donations. The full amount of the theft will be determined in a yet-to-be scheduled restitution hearing, at which time Opalenik will be ordered to reimburse Local 175 and pay for a $10,000 audit that was conducted. The Ocean County prosecutor's office estimates that the theft was between $28,000 and $31,000.

The discrepancy in PBA funds was uncovered by newly appointed treasurer John Hill in Jan. 2000. Several withdrawals, checks and monthly statements were unaccounted. As president, Opalenik was the only one who had access to the bank card. The local estimated that $25,000 was missing and arranged for an internal audit to determine whether the funds were mishandled.

The local also asked ex-treasurer Jeff Ehlers to resign. Long Beach Township Police Capt. Leslie Houston said the township isn't conducting any investigation into Ehlers.

New York Bosses Allegedly Bribed $200,000

George D'Andrea and Joseph Famularo, Sr., both business agents for United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers Local 8 in N.Y., were indicted July 25 by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert Morgenthau for their alleged roles in a bribery ring. The two allegedly received over $200,000 in bribes in 1999. They were two of the thirteen people and six companies charged with participating in a racket that allowed the companies to reap large profits from government contracts by using nonunion workers.

Morgenthau said the alleged scheme was a criminal enterprise headed by Joseph Delancey, a nonunion roofing contractor who operated a number of different roofing companies. He routinely bribed Local 8 officials in exchange for labor peace. In return for bribes, the companies were able to place nonunion roofers on union projects awarded by a number of N.Y. agencies, including the School Construction Auth., N.Y. Dormitory Auth., Transit Authority and Port Auth. of N.Y. and N.J. The bribes allegedly totaled about ten percent of the cost of the project, which ranged in size from $50,000 to $500,000. The scheme ran from Oct. 1997 to Nov. 1999.

Jury Convicts Diop, Lubin for Fraud

Two more bosses of the Am. Fed'n of State, County & Mun. Employees' Dist. Council 37 in N.Y. were convicted July 25 on charges that they helped rig a contract ratification vote in 1995. Albert A. Diop, who was AFSCME Local 1549 president, DC37 vice-president and AFSCME int'l vice-president, and Martin Lubin, ex-DC37 associate director, were convicted by a N.Y. jury. Diop faces up to four years in prison and Lubin seven. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7. DC37 has suffered over thirty indictments and over twenty guilty pleas in the last two years.

Diop was convicted on charges to defraud and falsify business records. Lubin was convicted on charges to defraud and forgery. While Lubin only was accused of helping rig the ratification votes, Diop has been charged with stealing over $2 million from his local and using a penthouse apartment at DC37 headquarters as a personal residence, while billing the local for rent as a business expense. That trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 17. Reportedly, Diop's annual salary from just Local 1549 was $206,000.

Ohio Boss Suspended Amid Mismanagement Charges

Gary Josephson, president of Communications Workers of Am. Local 4501 at Ohio State Univ., was suspended recently amid allegations of mismanagement of union funds. Union member Joe Baringhaus filed a complaint against Josephson July 7 after questions of the local's bookkeeping were raised at a local meeting.  Seth Rosen, spokesperson for CWA's district headquarters in Cleveland, said that it received a request for an audit of the local and that an outside auditor will be sent.

Josephson believes members have unfairly blamed him for difficulties during a recent strike against OSU. Recently, anonymous phone calls have been reportedly made to a local newspaper attacking Josephson's management of union funds. Josephson said these callers "obviously have political motives to approach the press. They're trying to impugn my character."

DC37 Clean-Up Offical Charged with Vote Fraud

Trial testimony has implicated a Manhattan union boss, who is part of the "clean-up" effort in the scandal-scared Am. Fed'n of State, County & Mun. Employees Dist. Council 37, in union vote-fraud scam. Gary R. Tenenbaum, ex-boss of AFSCME Local 299, testified July 10 that Dennis Sullivan, DC37's chief negotiator, helped rig DC37's 1995 contract ratification vote.

Since DC37's embezzlement and vote-fraud scandal erupted in 1998, over thirty have been criminally charged and more than twenty have pled guilty. Yet, Sullivan has remained, helping lead efforts to negotiate a new contract with the Giuliani mayoralty. Sullivan was "so respected" that AFSCME president Gerald W. McEntee's lieutenant running the DC37 administratorship, Lee Saunders, named Sullivan a deputy. He is reportedly one of Saunders' closest aides, but he was also a top aide to DC37's disgraced ex-executive director Stanley Hill. Some consider Sullivan a top candidate to be the next DC37 executive director.

Clinton Gets Gift from Boss McEntee

AFSCME's top boss, Gerald W. McEntee, gave Bill Clinton a first edition copy of the Lincoln-Douglas debates at the AFSCME convention June 30, according to the union's website. He called Clinton: "the best friend Labor has ever had." Reportedly, Clinton, a "history buff,...hugged the book to his chest in an expression of thanks."  One online book reseller lists an 1860 first edition of these debates at $1,200.

According in federal court documents, McEntee was implicated in the 1996 Teamsters scandal that ousted disgraced ex-Teamsters boss Ron Carey. Allegedly, McEntee improperly routed $20,000 to Carey's reelection campaign. Also, McEntee presides over one of the most corrupt unions in America today; in Jan. 2000, the N.Y. Times exposed an internal union document revealing that AFSCME suffered $4.6 million in corruption scandals in just over one year.

Suit Against Fund Tied to McAuliffe, May Settle in September

The U.S. Dep't of Labor's ERISA suit against two trustees of the Nat'l Elec. Benefit Fund charging improper dealings between NEBF and top Clinton-fundraiser Terry McAuliffe is scheduled to have a settlement conference on Sept. 7, according to a June 27 letter from U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Day to the parties. This follows two failed settlement meetings in Jan. and Apr. 1999 before the suit was filed.

Among the May 1999's suit allegations was that NEBF trustee John Grau and ex-trustee Jack F. Moore imprudently lent over $6 million in pension assets. NEBF is operated jointly by the Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, from which Moore retired as secretary in 1997, and the Nat'l Elec. Contractors Ass'n. The alleged scam involved a questionable $6 million loan in 1992 to a McAuliffe firm. The loan was in default from 1992-97, and DOL says NEBF should have known the loan couldn't be repaid in full with interest. DOL seeks the trustees to reimburse the fund for losses, plus interest.

Unions Turn on Nevada Democrat Whose Vote Helped Wal-Mart

An eight-page political pamphlet being distributed by the Service Trades Council of S. Nev., a group of Las Vegas unions including the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 711, is being called "the most incendiary political flier to surface so far this campaign season." The piece features  photos of ill, burned or disabled children, was mailed to thousands of homes in early July in support of teacher Stephanie Smith, a N. Las Vegas City Council Member, challenging incumbent Clark County Commissioner Mary Kincaid. The two face off in a Sept. 5 Democratic primary.

The flier criticizes Kincaid's opposition in May to a new pediatric facility. It reads: "Kincaid voted against building a children's hospital...Doctors testified that sick children were being turned away from other hospitals because they didn't have insurance. ...Kincaid said we don't need a 'Taj Mahal of a hospital for sick kids.'"

Minnesota Local Must Pay Overnite $30,000

Anoka County (Minn.) Dist. Judge James A. Morrow ordered Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 120 to pay $29,873 in damages to Overnite Transp. Co. in connection with violence and misconduct that has occurred in the Minneapolis area during IBT's ongoing strike against Overnite. Local 120 boss C. Thomas Keegel also serves as IBT's secretary-treasurer, the number two post to IBT boss James P. Hoffa.

Since in Nov. 1999, Morrow has issued a series of orders to stop to violence, intimidation and other violations of the law at Overnite's facility in Blaine, Minn. Because of violence and property damage, Overnite brought a motion for contempt. Morrow found "overwhelming" evidence that IBT repeatedly violated the orders. Morrow's findings included:

1) Two separate instances where IBT picketers jumped onto Overnite vehicles. In one case, Morrow found a picketer opened a driver's door and attempted to grab an Overnite employee to pull him out of the truck.

2) Forcing an Overnite employee off the road while the employee was driving home in his personal vehicle and threatening to kill the employee.

Seattle Embezzler Gets 30 Months for $860,000 Theft

U.S. Dist. Chief Judge John C. Coughenour sentenced Bonifacio Garcia June 30 to thirty months' imprisonment for crimes relating to his embezzlement of over $860,000 from the U.S. Dep't of Labor's Office of Worker's Compensation in Seattle.

Garcia had been a DOL employee in Seattle for about 20 years, until Aug. 1998. Among Garcia's responsibilities were processing and computing federal disability benefits for qualified claimants.  He was also responsible for transferring, via DOL's computer network, authorizations for supplemental (lump sum) disability payments to claimants who were owed money by the OWCP.

Garcia was only one of two people at the Seattle office with the authority to transmit these lump sum authorizations. Once DOL in Washington, D.C., received the authorization, it would be forwarded to the Dep't of Treasury, which would direct-deposit the money into the bank account designated on the original authorization.

Internal NEA Political Documents Raise Tax Questions

The Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, which reports to the IRS that it spends no union dues on politics, spent millions of dollars to help elect "pro-education candidates," produce political training guides and gather teachers' voting records, internal documents show. NEA documents reviewed by AP provide a rare window into the internal workings of one of the most powerful unions in the country.

The documents state that NEA since 1994 has budgeted or spent money from its general account "funded by about $200 million a year in teachers' dues" on activities ranging from recruiting teacher-friendly candidates to helping state affiliates raise political action committee funds. A July 1999 plan states NEA budgeted $4.9 million for the 2000 election for such things as "organizational partnerships with political parties, campaign committees and political organizations." Part of the money, the document said, would be spent on a "national political strategy" that involves "candidate recruitment, independent expenditures, early voting, and vote-by-mail programs in order to strengthen support for pro-public education candidates and ballot measures."

Ex-Seattle Boss, Football Star Dies

Arnie Weinmeister, the Pro-Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle who played for the N.Y. Giants in the 1950s and held a second career as head of a Seattle Teamsters union, died June 28 in Seattle of heart failure. After leaving football in 1956, Weinmeister became an organizer for IBT. He was director of the 13-state, Seattle-based Western Conference of Teamsters in the 1980-90s, which is same the IBT organization the corrupt boss David Beck ran in the 1950s. Weinmeister also served as IBT's second vice president, and as IBT Joint Council 28's president covering 20 Teamsters locals in Wash., Idaho and Alaska, and as IBT Local 117's secretary-treasure in Seattle before retiring in 1992.  It's safe to assume he drew income (double-dipped) from each of these posts.

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