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.

New Bill Would Ban Mandatory Project Labor Agreements

In the construction industry, nothing exemplifies union monopoly, and its costs, quite like a Project Labor Agreement.  A new proposal before Congress, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, would protect contractors from intrusion by organized labor upon contractual liberty.  Sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La. (H.R. 1671, S. 71), the measure would bar the use of these agreements on federally-sponsored or subsidized public works.  In promoting open competition in bidding, hiring and other aspects of project labor, it effectively would overturn President Obama’s Executive Order 13502.  Issued in February 2009, that order “encouraged” federal agencies to require such pacts on a case-by-case basis on projects of $25 million or more.

New Bill Would Curb 'Official Time' for Unionized Federal Workers

AFGE logoFor decades, federal employees have used working hours to conduct union business, effectively forcing taxpayers to cover the costs of activity unrelated to job responsibilities.  Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., thinks this practice, known as ‘official time,’ is due for an overhaul.  On March 26, Hice unveiled the Federal Employee Accountability Act (H.R. 1658).  The bill, which has gathered more than 15 House co-sponsors, would bar unionized federal workers from engaging in bargaining or arbitration while on agency time. “After examining the practices of over 60 government agencies,” said Hice, “my office has found an astounding amount of government waste.  By eliminating the ‘official time’ practice, we will return over $1 billion to hardworking American taxpayers, and shed this shady, wasteful practice that only benefits unions.”

UTU Financial Secretary in Washington State Pleads Guilty

United Transportation Union logoOn March 20, Alfonso Rodriguez, former financial secretary of United Transportation Union Local 117, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Washington to one count of false reporting in connection with his theft of funds from the Southworth (Kitsap County), Washington-based union.  He also agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $34,601.  Sentencing is set for June.  The plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.    

New York MTA Police Union President Charged in Theft

MTA inspectorsIt’s a familiar story:  A union official with a gambling problem steals from the till to cover personal losses.  On March 31, John Earvin, former president of the United Federation of Law Enforcement Officers (UFLEO), was arrested by federal agents for embezzling nearly $50,000 over more than three years from the Bellerose (Nassau County, Long Island), N.Y.-based union, which represents Special Inspectors at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  He had been indicted on one count of wire fraud the previous day in Manhattan federal court following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Laborers Secretary-Treasurer in Oklahoma Charged; Pleads Guilty

LIUNA logoOn March 26, Michael Low, former secretary-treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America Local 2097, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma to one count of making a false statement in financial records of the Oklahoma City union in connection with his embezzlement of $12,937.  He then pleaded guilty.  The charge and plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.     

Paramount Pictures Exec Fired for Embezzling Union Benefits

Paramount Pictures logoIn the motion picture world, news about a scandal can travel slowly – very slowly.  Late in March, Paramount Pictures announced it had dismissed a longtime executive, Stephen Koppekin, two years earlier for embezzling an unspecified sum of funds from three union benefit plans to which the studio makes contributions.  The departure of Koppekin, Paramount’s vice president of industrial relations and a trustee for the plans, originally was attributed to “retirement.”  Yet the real explanation was his hand in the till, says a whistleblower ex-employee, Nichole Goluskin.  Koppekin denies all accusations.  Yet even if he is innocent, the problem of benefits theft, and cover-up, may be far more common to the film industry than realized.  The U.S. Department of Labor, for one, wants some answers.

Washington State Letter Carriers Financial Secretary Pleads Guilty

Letter Carriers logoOn April 1, Henry Mayer, former financial secretary of National Association of Letter Carriers Local 852, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to one count of embezzlement of an unspecified sum from the Yakima-based union.  Mayer had been indicted on March 25 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFGE Local President in Indiana Pleads Guilty to Theft

AFGE logoOn March 30, Curtis Bullick, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3254, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to theft of property of an unspecified amount from the Bunker Hill, Ind.-based union.  Bullick had been charged on March 13 following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Chicago BLET Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Records Fraud

BLET logoOn March 2, Kimberly Hesla, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 474, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Illinois to one year of probation, and was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and a special assessment of $25, for falsifying financial records of the Chicago-based union.  She had pleaded guilty in November after being charged in October.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

BLET Secretary in West Virginia Indicted for Embezzlement

BLET logoOn March 3, Nathan McCallister, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 101, a Teamsters affiliate, was charged in the Summers County Court of West Virginia with one count of embezzlement in an amount of more than $1,000.  The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Virginia Fire Fighters Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty

IAFF logoSheron Gibson won the trust of his union – too much, in fact.  On March 5, Gibson, a former firefighter for the City of Suffolk, Va. fire department, pleaded guilty in a state court to one count each of embezzlement and forgery in connection with his theft of about $109,000 from International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2801, where he was secretary-treasurer for a half-decade.  He had been indicted last June on 12 counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery following a police investigation.  Gibson has made full restitution.

Letter Carriers Treasurer in SE Virginia Sentenced for Embezzlement

Letter Carriers logoOn March 25, Choi Hawks, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to six months of home detention and five years of supervised probation for embezzling $10,744 in funds from the Chesapeake, Va.-based union.  He also was ordered to attend counseling sessions.  Hawks, who pleaded guilty last December after being charged in November, has paid full restitution in the sum of $11,196.  The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

ILA Financial Secretary in Houston Charged with Theft

Longshoreman at workOn March 18, Elmer Ray Booker, former financial secretary for International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1530, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas with embezzling over $42,000 in funds from the Houston union.  The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Report Shows Missouri Taxpayers Subsidize Public-Sector Unions

Union compensationUnions, even those representing government employees, are private organizations.  Yet a new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) reveals that taxpayers in one state effectively are being forced to cover some of the costs of public-sector union official business.  The study, authored by CEI labor policy analyst Trey Kovacs and titled, “A Remedy for Taxpayer Giveaway to Unions” (March 25, 2015), in the face of considerable resistance, dug up clear evidence that state and local government agencies in Missouri are subsidizing public-sector unions during working hours without loss of member pay.  These “release time” clauses, built into collective bargaining agreements, are at odds with the public interest, deceptively costly, and almost certainly illegal.

Ironworkers Secretary in New Orleans Sentenced for Embezzlement

Iron Workers logoOn March 25, Andrea Hobgood, former secretary for Ironworkers Local 58, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $3,600 in restitution and a $100 special assessment, for embezzling funds from the New Orleans-based union.  She previously had paid $14,039 in restitution.  Hobgood had pleaded guilty last March after being charged in January.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ohio CWA Local Financial Secretary Pleads Guilty to Theft

Communications Workers logoOn March 19, Thomas Wolfer, former financial secretary of Communications Workers of America Local 84729, pleaded guilty in the State of Ohio, Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, to one count of theft in an unspecified amount from the Fayetteville, Ohio union.  The plea follows a joint investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheet Metal Workers Office Manager in Pittsburgh Sentenced

Sheet Metal Workers logoOn March 11, Jennifer Gent, former office manager for Sheet Metal Workers Local 12, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to three years of probation, the first ten months of which must be served in home detention, for embezzling $30,297 in funds from the Pittsburgh union’s Journeymen Apprentice Training Fund.  She also was ordered to pay full restitution.  Gent pleaded guilty last November after being indicted in April.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  

President of Kansas AFGE Local Sentenced for Embezzlement

AFGE logoTimothy Sanchez couldn’t maintain the ruse forever.  And he’s beginning a sentence because of that.  On March 5, Sanchez, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 906, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to 18 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release, for embezzling more than $51,000 from the union, which represents about 200 employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Health Resource Center in Topeka, Kan. and Waco, Texas.  He also will have to make restitution in the amount of $50,156, a sum slightly less than what he took.

Pennsylvania Utility Workers Ex-Local President Pleads Guilty

UWUA logoOn March 4, Michael Trembulak, former president of Utility Workers Union of America Local 475, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to embezzling $31,528 in funds from the Rochester (Beaver County), Pa.-based union.  He had been indicted last July.  That same month, about two weeks earlier, another former Local 475 president, John Vetterly Jr., had been sentenced to nine months of house arrest and five years of probation for embezzling $26,605 from the union.  In each case, the actions followed an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former President of NYC Steelworkers Local Pleads Guilty

United Steelworkers logoFor Juan “Alex” Cedeno, the party’s over.  And the bill has come due.  On March 6, Cedeno, former president of United Steelworkers Local 4-318, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to one count of false-record keeping in connection with his theft or misappropriation of more than $90,000 in funds from the Queens, N.Y. union.  Cedeno had been arrested and charged last May after a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

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