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.

Four Officials of Independent Southern California Union Indicted for $900K in Thefts

San BernardinoAt United Industrial and Service Workers of America, stealing apparently was a family affair - a Romero family affair. On January 21, husband and wife John S. and Evelyn Romero, and their two adult children, John J. and Danae Romero - each a former union official - were indicted by a federal grand jury on 40 counts related mainly to their looting of about $900,000 from the Colton (San Bernardino County), Calif. union. A week later, on January 28, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California unsealed the indictment following the arrest of the four defendants earlier that day. The actions 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.

Alaska Carpenters Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 7, Jonathan Smith, former financial secretary of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2247, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to four months in halfway house for embezzling $41,770 from the Juneau union. He also was ordered to serve five years of probation and perform 250 hours of community service, and pay full restitution. Smith had pleaded guilty in August after being indicted in April. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Electrical Workers Secretary in Michigan Sentenced for Embezzlement

IBEW logoAnn Marie Shaffer embezzled checks under the guise of processing them. She's now about to pay the price. On January 16, Shaffer, former dues clerk for International Brotherhood Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 58, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to a year in prison for embezzling $101,059.56 in funds from the Detroit-based union. She also was ordered to serve two years of supervised release and pay $340,267.73 in restitution. Shaffer had pleaded guilty last August following a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Ex-Michigan AFSCME Local President Pleads Guilty

AFSCME logoOn January 7, Amanda Kay Nault, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 249, pleaded guilty in Lenawee County (Mich.) Circuit Court to embezzling $3,454 in funds from the Adrian-based union. Nault, 31, a resident of nearby Lambertville, Mich., had made union checks out to herself and then forged the signatures of other union officers. She had been charged last September, several months after her resignation. Local 249 represents ProMedica laboratory workers in Lenawee County.

Postal Workers Local President in Indiana Indicted; Turns Self In

APWU logoOn January 12, Pamela Nessen, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 286, turned herself into police in the wake of her indictment in November by a federal grand jury that she had embezzled $58,598 from the Fort Wayne, Ind. union. Nessen, now 58, headed the APWU local during November 2009-November 2013, and had been living in Jensen Beach, Fla. when the indictment came down. She pleaded not guilty the next day. The actions follow a U.S. Labor Department investigation.

Feds Release Teamsters from Oversight, But Is Corruption Really Gone?

James Hoffa, Jr.This past January 14, the Justice Department and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters reached an agreement to end a quarter-century of federal oversight. Prosecutors believe a new era is overdue. "While threats persist, the organized crime influence the government found to have reached the highest echelons of IBT leadership in 1988 has long been expunged," announced Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The deal, set for a hearing on February 11 before District Chief Judge Loretta Preska, phases in an autonomy plan over five years and institutes safeguards against corruption.

Railroad Workers Secretary-Treasurer in Kansas Sentenced

BLET logoOn January 5, Dale Hull, formerly secretary-treasurer for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 261, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution, for embezzling funds from the Herington, Kan.-based union, a Teamsters affiliate. He had pleaded guilty in September after being charged in July. Hull admitted that starting in 2008 he made unauthorized account transfers from the union account to a personal checking account and then concealed the thefts on financial reporting forms. The union represents Union Pacific Railroad employees in Herington and Salina. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of Michigan Retail Workers Local Charged with Embezzlement

Retail Workers Union logoOn December 11, Edward Feld, former president of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 374, was charged in the 10th District Court of Calhoun County, Michigan, with one count of felony embezzlement from the Battle Creek union in an amount of at least $1,000 but less than $20,000. RWDSU is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

SE Virginia Letter Carriers Local Secretary-Treasurer Charged; Pleads Guilty

NALC logoOn December 17, Choi Hawks, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of embezzling $10,744 from the Chesapeake, Va.-based union after being charged on November 14. The charge and guilty plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

CWA Secretary-Treasurer in Dallas Admits to Embezzlement

Communications Workers logoSharon Ratcliff had a lot of expenses to cover. Unfortunately, she used her union as a personal bank. On November 14, Ratcliff, formerly secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 6150, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas with embezzling more than $75,000 in funds from the Dallas-based union. Six days later, on November 20, she filed a factual resume with the court, effectively pleading guilty. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Top Ten logoIf the year 2014 had a main theme, it was, as in 2013, the unions' pursuit of legal advantage. The results were mixed. Unions scored victories at the National Labor Relations Board, but they tasted defeat in the courts, most notably in their effort to unionize private home care providers in Illinois and overturn a Wisconsin law reining in public-sector costs. In another bitter pill, the United Auto Workers last February lost a representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. As for dipping their hands in tills, national union leaders generally behaved themselves, but many local bosses, office employees and business agents did not.

Locomotive Engineers Secretary in Tennessee Sentenced

BLET logoReda Overton isn't likely to be feeling well in the near future. On November 10, Overton, former executive secretary to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), General Committee of Adjustment 4-175, a Teamsters affiliate, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee to 18 months of imprisonment and three months of probation for embezzling $206,056 from the Tennessee office of the Kentucky-based union. She also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 assessment.

Ex-AFGE President in El Paso Indicted for Theft

AFGE logoOn December 10, Paul Florez, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3922, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas with intent to steal property in the amount of $59,709. The union represents VA Hospital employees in El Paso. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Washington, D.C. Security Professionals Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced

SPFPA logoOn November 25, Milton Hilliard, former secretary-treasurer of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America Local 287, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 180 days of home confinement with electronic monitoring and three years of probation for embezzling $34,612 from the Washington, D.C. union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution plus a $4,000 fine. Hilliard had pleaded guilty in August after being indicted in July. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NLRB Issues Final 'Ambush Election' Rule; Employer Groups File Suit

NLRBThe National Labor Relations Board lately appears to believe that if an aspect of labor law isn't broke, fix it anyway. Unions certainly are comfortable with that. On December 15, the NLRB published a final rule that would dramatically shorten the duration between a union's filing of a petition to represent workers and the holding of a vote. This 'ambush' or 'quickie' election rule, under the guise of promoting fairness and efficiency, would throw roadblocks in front of an employer seeking to respond to union organizer arguments. The board issued its preliminary rule last February after a Washington, D.C. federal court in May 2012 had struck down a similar mandate on procedural grounds. Last Monday, January 5, a coalition of trade groups filed suit to block the rule, set to take effect on April 14. As before, at stake is the right of workers to choose whether to belong to a union.

Pittsburgh Sheet Metal Workers Ex-Office Manager Pleads Guilty

Sheet Metal Workers logoOn November 24, Jennifer Gent, former office manager for Sheet Metal Workers Local 12, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to embezzling $30,297 from the Pittsburgh-based union's Journeymen Apprentice Training Fund. She had been indicted in April. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Letter Carriers President in Virginia Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Letter Carriers logoOn November 20, Jeffrey Jones, former president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $7,649 from the Chesapeake, Va.-based union. He had been charged in October. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Convicted NYC Bus Drivers Union Boss Pleads Guilty to New Offense

School busWarren Annunziata officially ceased to lead United Craft and Industrial Workers Union Local 91 several years ago. His problem these days is not being able to accept that. On November 24, Annunziata pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to violating a federal ban on union participation by union officials and trustees convicted of serious corruption offenses. And Annunziata was corrupt. Back in 2010, he had pleaded guilty to forcibly extracting more than $600,000 in cash payments from bus companies that provide transportation for public school students in New York City and parts of neighboring Westchester County, N.Y. His prison sentence apparently wasn't enough to keep him from collecting handsomely at the expense of dues-paying members.

Boston Teamsters Convicted of Extortion, Racketeering

Teamsters logoInternational Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 82 over several years perfected the art of the shakedown. In response, a federal jury has created a shakeup. On November 19, after a seven-week trial, John Perry and Joseph "Jo Jo" Burhoe, respectively, ex-president and representative of the now-defunct Boston local, were convicted on various counts of racketeering and conspiracy related to extortion at Boston trade shows. They and two other union members, James "Jimmy the Bull" Deamicis and Thomas Flaherty, allegedly forced exhibitors to provide cash and/or union jobs as a prerequisite for having their trucks loaded and unloaded, and their booths set up. The jury could not reach a verdict on Deamicis; it acquitted Flaherty. The defendants had been indicted in September 2012 following a joint investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, and Boston police.

Wisconsin AFGE Local President Pleads No Contest; Sentenced

AFGE logoOn November 5, Christopher Zawikowski, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3495, pleaded no contest in the Adams County, Wisconsin District Court to one count of theft in an amount of less than $2,500 from the Grand Marsh, Wisc.-based union. He then was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to pay $1,400 in restitution. Zawikowski had been charged in July 2013. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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