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.

Sanders Campaign Consultant Is Convicted Steelworkers Official

Steelworkers logoHis blinkered economic ideas aside, Senator Bernie Sanders at least seems to work within the law.  The same can’t be said for one of his presidential campaign outreach advisers, Charles “Chuck” Rocha.  Early last month, the webzine Politico reported that Rocha, former political director for the United Steelworkers and now head of a consulting firm called Solidarity Strategies, had been convicted in 2013 of stealing funds from the union.  Union Corruption Update has reported on this case.  Rocha’s company thus far has received over $200,000 in Sanders campaign disbursements.  The revelation suggests that despite the senator’s frequent denunciations of establishment corruption, his populist instincts are less than sound when it comes to hiring campaign help.  

Laborers Local Business Manager in Arizona Sentenced

LIUNA logoOn February 4, Anne Susan, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1386, was sentenced in Maricopa County (Ariz.) Superior Court to three years of probation for theft, identity theft and forgery against the Phoenix-based union.  She also was ordered to pay $18,056 in restitution.  Susan had pleaded guilty in January after being charged in October.  The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. 

Michigan Postal Workers President Charged with Embezzlement

APWU logoOn February 3, Lawrence Moyer, president of American Postal Workers Union Local 6723, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with one count of embezzling $2,599 in funds from the Troy (suburban Detroit) union.  The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Hawaii Painters Business Agent Pleads Guilty in $1.5M Theft

Honolulu skylineWhen it comes to embezzling union funds, third-party administrators can be as adept as union officials themselves.  And thefts can go undetected for years.  Just ask Painters union members in Hawaii.  On January 27, Raymond Fujii, former executive director for a trade group, the Painting & Decorating Contractors Association of Hawaii (PDCA), pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to one count of mail fraud in the amount of nearly $1.5 million against the PDCA and a related union-supported entity, the Hawaii Painters Trade Promotion & Charity Fund (TP&C).  Fujii also pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return.  He had been charged on January 20.  The actions follow an investigation by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Official in Texas Charged with Records Fraud

Postal Workers logoOn January 27, Nereida Norris, clerk craft director of American Postal Workers Union Local 98, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas with making a false statement in financial records of the Fort Worth-based union.  The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NLRB Sides with Unions in Targeting Employee Handbooks

NLRBOrientation is a challenging time at a workplace.  New hires find themselves having to learn a lot in a short time.  That’s why their employers provide them with handbooks explaining the rules and addressing potential questions about them.  Unions, however, see these pamphlets as thinly-veiled attempts to suppress worker organizing rights.  During the Obama years, they have had an unofficial partner in the National Labor Relations Board.  A new monograph published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Theater of the Absurd:  The NLRB Takes on the Employee Handbook,” should dispel any doubts that this alliance is real.  The 43-page report, written by Chamber senior staffer Sean Redmond, documents how the ostensibly "neutral" five-member board now sides regularly with unions over handbook-related complaints that have little, if any, validity.

Ex-Treasurer of Laborers Local in Arizona Pleads Guilty

LIUNA logoOn January 22, Therlen Benally, former treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America Local 1386, pleaded guilty in Maricopa County (Phoenix) Superior Court to theft, identity theft and forgery after being charged in a 29-count indictment last October.  Anne Susan, former business manager of the Phoenix-based local, had pleaded guilty this January on similar charges after being indicted in October.  Local 1386 represents certain area health care employees.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.   

Chicago-Area Doctor Sentenced for $3.7M+ Fraud; Union Health Plans Affected

Medical insurance fraudMedical insurance fraud is one of America’s leading growth industries.  And doctors are prominent among those getting fat and rich.  Looking on the bright side, some of them also get caught and punished.  Last August 28, Dr. Robert Kolbusz, a Chicago-area dermatologist, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to seven years in prison and ordered to pay more than $3.7 million in restitution for falsely billing Medicare and private health insurers for phony skin cancer treatments.  Among fleeced entities were area union health plans.  A jury had convicted Kolbusz in October 2014 on three counts each of wire fraud and mail fraud following a seven-count indictment in the early fall of 2012.  The actions follow a probe by the FBI and the Inspector General’s Offices of the Labor and Health & Human Services Departments.

Chicago-Area Iron Workers Local Bookkeeper Sentenced

Iron Workers logoOn January 20, Michelle Misso, former bookkeeper for Iron Workers Local 63, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to three months in prison and one year of supervision for making false entries in records of the Westchester (Cook County), Ill. union to conceal her embezzlement of $47,161.  She had pleaded guilty last October after being charged in August.  In addition to her prison sentence, Misso was ordered to pay residual restitution totaling $31,161.  The union previously had been based in nearby Broadview, Ill.  The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Kansas City, Mo. AFSCME Boss Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

AFSCME logoLowell Wreh headed a union that represented jail workers.  Now he faces the possibility of being an inmate.  On January 20, Wreh, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1707, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to one count of wire fraud in the amount of $7,642 against the Kansas City, Mo. union, which represents employees of the Jackson County Department of Corrections.  The guilty plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers President in Michigan Pleads Guilty to Records Fraud

Postal Workers logoOn January 19, Jesus Gonzales, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 300, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to making false entries in financial records of the Lansing-based union.  Gonzales had been charged in August with embezzling $6,720 and then concealing the theft.  The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General. 

IRB Charges Northern California Teamster Boss with Corruption

Teamsters logoWhen the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Justice Department agreed last January to replace the tight government oversight established over 25 years earlier with union self-regulation, the terms called for phasing out the federal role over five years rather than lifting it all at once.  Dues-paying members may be grateful for such a precaution.  This February 10, the court-approved monitoring agency known as the Independent Review Board (IRB) issued a report charging Northern California Teamster leader Rome Aloise with various acts of corruption, including racketeering and influence-peddling.  Nearly two weeks later, Hoffa, after reviewing the report, filed charges against Aloise with the union disciplinary board.  Aloise has run for election on the Hoffa slate.  But loyalty alone might not be enough to save his job.

Letter Carriers Local Secretary-Treasurer in Missouri Indicted

Letter Carriers logoOn January 27, John McCain, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 1016, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on one count of embezzlement of $30,948 in funds from the Poplar Bluff, Mo. union.  The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  

Arkansas IBEW Secretary-Treasurer Charged with Theft; Pleads Guilty

IBEW logoThe promotion was nice, but it couldn’t save Clinton Humphrey from being caught.  On January 26, Humphrey, formerly secretary-treasurer of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 386, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas with embezzling $51,811.70 in funds from the Texarkana, Ark.-based union.  He then pleaded guilty.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Treasurer in South Dakota Pleads Guilty

APWU logoFor nearly four years, Susan Haugen saw her union as a private bank.  Now she’s likely to spend some time in a public prison.  On January 26, Haugen, former treasurer of the state affiliate of the American Postal Workers Union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of South Dakota to one count of embezzlement of funds in the amount of $30,782 from the Huron, S.D.-based union.  She had been indicted in November 2014 on three counts of stealing a combined more than $36,000 following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Cleveland Plumbers Office Secretary Sentenced for Theft

Plumbers and Pipefitters logoOn January 19, Heather Banhidy, former office secretary for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 120, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to two years of probation and 50 hours of community service for embezzling $13,906 from the Cleveland union.  She also was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment on top of the full restitution which she already had made.  Banhidy had pleaded guilty in October following her indictment in August.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Illinois Maintenance of Way Secretary Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

BMWE logoOn January 15, Joshua Lewis, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division Lodge 212, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois for making false statements in financial records of the Gillespie (Macoupin County), Ill.-based union.  He then was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $25 social assessment.  Lewis had been indicted in November.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

West Virginia Enacts Right to Work Law over Governor's Veto

New River Gorge Suspension Bridge, West VirginiaThe Right to Work juggernaut continues to roll in seemingly unlikely places.  On Friday, February 12, West Virginia Republican lawmakers overrode a veto by Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to pass legislation barring unions from forcing employers to fire workers who decline to pay dues.  The votes, 55-43 in the House of Delegates and 18-16 in the Senate – only a simple majority is required for a veto – make West Virginia the 26th state with such a law.  The measure had been introduced only a month earlier.  Mark Mix, president of the Springfield, Va.-based National Right to Work Committee, commented after the vote:  “Now, more than half of the states have enacted Right to Work laws to protect workers’ fundamental right to freedom of association.”  The state’s unions have a different view.

New Hampshire Nuclear Plant Security Steward Sentenced

Seabrook nuclear power plantOn January 12, Gregory Paradis, former chief steward of United Federation of Special Police and Security Officers Local 501, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire to two years of probation for embezzling $13,493 in funds from the Seabrook, N.H. union.  He also was ordered to pay full restitution.  Paradis had pled guilty in October after being charged in August.  The union represents security workers at the Seabrook nuclear power plant.  The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Delaware Steelworkers Secretary Charged with Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn January 12, Herbert White Jr., former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 8936, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware with embezzlement of $24,287 in funds from the Wilmington-based union.  The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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