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.

Office Assistant for Denver Bakery Workers Local Charged

Bakery & Tobacco Workers logoOn May 13, Mary Grace Gossett, former office assistant for Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Local 24, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado with three counts of embezzlement from the Denver union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Baltimore Electrical and Radio Workers Secretary Sentenced

UE logoOn May 7, James Babcock, former financial secretary of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 121, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to two years of probation and ordered to pay $24,854 in restitution to the Baltimore-based union. He had pleaded guilty in January after being charged last September. Babcock had written more than 100 checks over a five-year period for unauthorized purposes. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Queens, N.Y. Steelworkers Ex-Boss Charged with Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoJuan "Alex" Cedeno no doubt had his share of problems. But his partying only added to them. On May 5, Cedeno, formerly president of United Steelworkers Local 4-318 in Queens, N.Y., was arrested after being charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York with embezzling nearly $60,000 from the union benefit fund and co-signing more than $35,000 worth of union checks to cover his tracks. He allegedly used the health and welfare fund credit card to charge purchases for meals, entertainment, travel and retail spending in New York City, Las Vegas and elsewhere. The charge and arrest follow a joint investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Dennis Williams Elected UAW President; Vows to Play Hardball with Automakers

Dennis Williams photoThe United Auto Workers may have declined in numbers, but its taste for confrontation appears as strong as ever. And its new leader, Dennis Williams, isn't about to let anyone forget. Last Wednesday, June 4, Williams, the UAW secretary-treasurer these last four years, overwhelmingly was elected president at the union convention in Detroit. Inaugurated the following day, Williams, now 61, replaces one-term President Bob King, who at age 67 retired in the face of the union's mandatory age limit. Williams' main priority is ending the two-tier wage system to which the union agreed in 2007 as part of a deal to keep General Motors, Ford and Chrysler afloat. He'll get to test his mettle in contract negotiations next year. The union shouldn't lack for funds in this or any other endeavor; delegates approved a 25 percent dues hike.

Financial Secretary of Florida Steelworkers Local Sentenced

Steelworkers logoOn April 29, Edward Martin Mosher, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 458, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida to time served in prison (11.5 months), to be followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling funds from the Plant City (Hillsborough County), Fla.-based union. He also was ordered to pay $43,941 in restitution. Mosher had pleaded guilty in January to stealing $65,895 following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Machinists District Business Agent in Minnesota Sentenced

Machinists logoOn May 2, James Kiser, former directing business representative for International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 165, was sentenced in Stearns County (Minn.) Court to five years of probation and 30 days in jail, with credit for one day served, for theft in the amount of roughly $5,920 from the St. Cloud union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $50 fine. He had pleaded guilty in March after being charged in December 2012. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Locomotive Engineers Secretary in Tennessee Pleads Guilty to $200K+ Theft

BLET logoIt was a formality for Reda Overton, but it was a source of relief for the rail workers that her union represented. On May 20, Overton, formerly executive secretary for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), General Committee of Adjustment 4-175, a Teamsters affiliate, pleaded guilty in Knoxville federal court to embezzling more than $200,000 from a Tennessee office of the Cynthiana, Ky.-based union over a more than three-year period. Overton in mid-February had agreed to plead guilty after being charged on January 22 following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. She faces up to five years in prison and a term of supervised release of up to three years.

Local UAW Financial Secretary in Detroit Charged with Theft

United Auto Workers logoOn April 28, Udean Forbes-Payton, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 2500, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with embezzling $5,562 in funds from the Detroit-based union during December 2006-May 2011 and then concealing the thefts in union records. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Graphic Communications/Teamster Officials in Orange County Plead Guilty

Teamsters logoRyan Sherard and Fred Correll might consider themselves lucky that they weren't prosecuted for stealing a lot more. On April 23, Sherard, former president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' Graphic Communications Conference, District Council 2, pleaded guilty in Santa Ana, Calif. federal court to one count of concealing $9,635 in income in the financial records of the Fullerton-based union. Six days earlier, on April 17, Correll, former council secretary-treasurer, had pleaded guilty to embezzling $10,000 from the union in 2009. Back in February, each had waived his right to a grand jury, and agreed to plea guilty. Sentencing is scheduled for August 4.

Former Treasurer of Pennsylvania CWA Local Pleads Guilty

CWA logoOn April 24, Robert Vargeson, former treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 88329, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to an information count for falsifying financial records of the Galeton (Potter County), Pa.-based union. The concealment had covered up a loss of $6,373 to the union. Vargeson had been charged 10 days earlier following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

ILWU Secretary-Treasurer in Portland, Ore. Sentenced for Embezzlement

ILWU logoOn April 22, Britta Duncan, former secretary-treasurer for Local 5 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon to eight months of home detention and five years of probation for embezzling funds from the Portland-based union and falsifying union financial reports to cover up the thefts. She also was ordered to pay $43,183 in restitution and a $500 fine, and receive counseling. Duncan, formerly an employee of the Portland flagship store of Powell's Books, pleaded guilty last October to three counts of embezzlement and two counts of records fraud. She had been charged in March 2013 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Labor Department Sues Los Angeles-Area Cement Masons Local for Blocking Probe

Cement Masons logo Workers represented by Cement Masons Local 600 have helped put up a good many buildings in Southern California. But right now its members have a more immediate project on their hands: making sure they receive all promised benefits. And the U.S. Department of Labor wants to make that happen. Last Wednesday, the DOL filed a civil suit against various officers of the local trust funds to seek the reinstatement of a recently-fired union auditor and remove certain board members who administer the funds. Assistant Labor Secretary Phyllis Borzi explained the motive behind the action: "Workers must be free to participate in Department of Labor inquiries without fear of retaliation. By law, they have a right to report suspected violations to the department and must be allowed to cooperate with investigators."

Contractors, Steward Sentenced for Defrauding NYC Teamsters at World Trade Center Site

Dump truckWhen the Port Authority Terminal at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan reopened this past February 25, at least a few of the people involved in this challenging and emotionally-charged project couldn't be on hand. They included brothers Gerardo and Vincent Fusella, owner-operators of a New Jersey-based trucking company, and Willie Spikes, a steward for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 282. Over the last year or more, the three pleaded guilty in Brooklyn, N.Y. federal court for their roles in diverting more than $1 million in union member wages and benefits to themselves. Each subsequently was sentenced. The Fusellas had been named in a 31-count criminal indictment in December 2011 following a lengthy multi-agency investigation.

Pittsburgh Sheet Metal Workers Office Manager Indicted for Theft

Sheet Metal Workers logoOn April 23, Jennifer Gent, former office manager for the Journeyman Apprentice Training Fund (JATF) of the Pittsburgh-based Sheet Metal Workers Local 12, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on one count of embezzlement of $30,297 in JATF funds. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

IBEW Secretary-Treasurer in Ohio Sentenced for $150K+ Embezzlement

IBEW logoRonald Karr, former secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2359, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine for embezzling $158,150 from the Sugar Grove, Ohio union. He previously had made full restitution. Karr had been charged last November and pleaded guilty in December. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Atlanta Maintenance of Way Secretary-Treasurer Charged

Maintenance of Way Employees logoOn April 22, Nathan Lee, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Local 536, was charged in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia with one count of theft in the amount of $3,074 from the Atlanta-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of Mail Handlers Local in St. Louis Indicted for Theft

LIUNA logoOn April 23, Anthony Davis, president of National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 314, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on one count of embezzling $40,659 in funds from the St. Louis union. The Mail Handlers are an affiliate of the Laborers International Union of North America. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ohio UAW Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

United Auto Workers logoOn April 22, Kristie McClarren, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 3061, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to 18 months of confinement, followed by two years of supervised release, for embezzling $152,639 in funds from the Crestline (near Mansfield), Ohio union. She also was ordered to make full restitution. McClarren had pleaded guilty in January after being charged last December. The local represents employees at the Pittsburgh Glass Works plant in nearby Shelby. The actions follow a joint investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

NLRB Considers Forcing Employers to Allow Union E-Mail Organizing

emailAn employer presumably sets the rules as to who uses its e-mail accounts and for what purposes. But that presumption might not hold if the users are union organizers. On April 30, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) posted a notice soliciting comments on an October ruling by an Administrative Law Judge, Purple Communications Inc., that an employer has the discretion to deny the use of its e-mail system for organizing. If the NLRB reverses the decision, which is likely given its current 3-2 pro-union majority, it would be handing unions a potent organizing tool, and more broadly, restricting employer property rights. A victory by the Communications Workers of America in this case would overturn a 2007 board decision protecting an employer's right to bar the usage of its e-mail for organizing.

Communications Workers Treasurer in Pennsylvania Charged

Communications Workers logoOn April 14, Robert Vargeson, former treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 88329, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania with falsifying financial records of the Galeton, Pa. (Potter County)-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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