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.

Central California Machinists Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 23, Tracy Ford, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists Lodge 1528, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to five years of probation, including 10 months of home detention, for embezzling nearly $175,000 in funds from the Modesto-based union. She was ordered to pay full restitution and a $125 special assessment. Ford had been indicted in February 2011 and pleaded guilty that September. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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Machinists Secretary-Treasurer in Central California Pleads Guilty

Transportation Union Secretary-Treasurer of Texas Local, Wife Plead Guilty

UTU logoOn January 26, Vance Valentine, former secretary-treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 524, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to filing false financial reports on behalf of the Willis, Texas (north of Houston) labor organization. He had been indicted last September. Three days earlier, on January 23, his wife, Sheila Valentine, pleaded guilty in that court to embezzling union funds in an unspecified amount. She, too, had been indicted in September. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

GM Blames Chevy Volt Owners for Power Cord Problems

Volt power cord photoBeing a politician means never having to say you're sorry. It now seems that the same philosophy holds true with government-owned General Motors. About eight months ago some owners of Chevy Volts complained that charging cords were overheating, sometimes to the point of melting. At the time, GM blamed owners, saying the wall outlets were the culprits. We now finally have GM addressing the safety concerns and agreeing to replace charging cords for all 9,500 Volts that have been sold since production began. But in what is becoming a new public relations precedent, the move is not being called a "recall."

 

Boston-Area Laborers President Sentenced for Bribe-Taking

LIUNA logoOn January 19, Joseph Pavone, former president of Laborers International Union of North America Local 560 in Waltham, Mass., was sentenced U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to two years of probation for receiving $6,466 in bribes. He also was ordered to pay full restitution and pay a $1,000 fine. Pavone had pleaded guilty in October. The plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Sheet Metal Workers Office Manager in Alaska Charged; Pleads Guilty

Sheet Metal Workers logoOn January 17, Carole Reeves, former office manager for Sheet Metal Workers Local 23, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska with one count of embezzling $19,663.33 in funds from the Anchorage-based union. She then signed a plea agreement. According to prosecutors, Reeves during July-October 2008 had used her union credit card on 19 separate occasions to divert union funds to her personal savings account. Under the plea agreement, she will avoid prison time, but will have to pay a $6,000 fine and serve three years probation. Reeves already has repaid the union in full. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New Jersey Longshoremen Contractor Arrested for Thefts

Longshoremen's logoRaymond Norville may have advertised himself as a handyman, but his most pronounced skill appears to be placing his hands in union tills. On February 16, Norville, a northern New Jersey contractor, was arrested at his home after being charged two days earlier in Newark, N.J. federal court with one count of embezzling at least $100,000 from the Newark-based International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) Local 1233. And that figure may be on the low side. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the alleged offenses. The arrest follows a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Inspector General and Office of Labor-Management Standards, along with the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

Ally Financial Failure Jeopardizes Auto Bailout 'Success'

Ally ad imageAlly Financial seldom gets mentioned when the auto bailouts are discussed. The company was formerly known as GMAC and the 17 billion dollars that taxpayers sunk into the company was crucial for the perceived success at both General Motors and Chrysler. We now learn that Ally Financial has failed a government stress test and, according to Reuters, "fared by far the worst of 19 banks examined."

Wisconsin Operating Engineers Accountant Pleads No Contest to $450K+ in Thefts

Operating Engineers logoSandra Jungbluth had a chaotic domestic life. But that wasn't a sufficient excuse for ripping off the union whose benefits she handled. On or about last December 8, Jungbluth, formerly an accountant for a firm managing benefit funds for the Wisconsin state affiliate of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), stated her intention to plead no contest to stealing more than $450,000 in union funds over some nine years. She allegedly had forged the signature of a company vice president. As part of a plea agreement, two of the three charges in the criminal complaint would be dismissed, but considered by the judge at sentencing. She faces up to five years in prison, plus five years of supervised probation.

Chevy Volt – The Prize-Winning Pig

pig imageFresh off the heels of its European Car of the Year award, the Chevy Volt has been named "Vincentric Best Value in America." You just can't make this stuff up. I didn't know that there were so many awards in the auto industry, but the less that the Volt sells, the more awards it seems to win. After this latest award, it dawned on me that the Chevy Volt is eerily like Wilbur, the prize-winning pig from the classic children's tale, Charlotte's Web.

Steelworkers Local in Southern California Charged with Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn January 18, Linda Favela, former treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 6703, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with embezzlement of $12,510 in funds from the Riverside, Calif. union. The indictment follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pittsburgh Iron Workers Secretary Sentenced for $400K+ Embezzlement

Iron Workers logoOn January 13, Jennine Prince, former bookkeeper/office secretary for International Association of Iron Workers Local 3, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to two years of imprisonment, followed by three years or supervised release, for embezzling $418,070.96 from the Pittsburgh-based union. She also will have to pay restitution in the amount of $494,598.89 and a $100 special assessment. She pleaded guilty last September after being indicted in April. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Bookkeeper for Carpenters Local in Upstate New York Sentenced

Carpenters On January 18, Alyson Harmon, former office assistant and bookkeeper for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 281, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York to five years probation for embezzlement of $20,481.57 in cash receipts during July 2006-June 2008 from the now-defunct, Binghamton-based union. She also was ordered to pay $29,876.57 in restitution. Harmon was indicted last June and pleaded guilty in September. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Connecticut Postal Workers President Pleads Guilty to Thefts

Postal workers logoOn January 11, Michael Martin, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 3093, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut to embezzling $11,320.61 of mail by a postal employee and $8,880.78 in funds from the Norwalk-based union. The guilty plea follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General.

Crotchety Bob Lutz Leads GM’s Defense of the Chevy Volt

Bob Lutz photoAnyone following the Chevy Volt story has seen the internet headlines trumpeting the blog by General Motors' Bob Lutz in which he blasts Bill O'Reilly, Fox News and what he calls, "the rabid, sadly misinformed right." It remains a mystery as to why GM would take a political stance, and seek to identify with one ideological faction over another. It's ridiculous to blame poor Volt sales on a Republican conspiracy. It is also pretty stupid. After all, some of the people who buy cars are Republicans.

SEIU-Controlled Nonprofit Network Grows in Size, Boldness

SEIU logo'Occupy Wall Street' and similar protests around the nation were only the beginning. The Service Employees International Union, as much as anyone, is making sure of it. The SEIU these past several months has been playing a crucial behind-the-scenes role in transforming these rallies into the raw material for a new generation of activists. Through varied front groups, the union is taking its fight against banks, energy companies and other corporations to a new level, making sure reluctant elected officials feel their wrath. These nonprofit organizations, typically operating under monikers such as "good jobs" and "a fair economy," may seem spontaneous and benign. Yet they are union stage-managed. And as their leaders become more sophisticated and networked, unions may wind up a good deal more effective in their drive to place the U.S. economy under public control.

More Taxpayer Largess for Chevy Volt— on Leases

The recent lowering of lease costs for the Chevy Volt led me to think about the amount of money General Motors or Ally Financial (also taxpayer-owned) was going to lose when the quickly depreciating leased vehicles begin to be returned. I then recognized another egregious waste of taxpayer money being spent to support the struggling car. Taxpayers are paying the tax credits, which go to the lessor of the Volt (most likely Ally Financial), to place Volts on the road for a limited period of time.

GM's Latest 'Crapload' of Chevy Volt Nonsense

Chevy VoltThese guys at Government Motors just continue to outdo themselves. Just as Chevy Volt owners are getting over being called idiots by the head of Audi, GM comes up with an ad that lends credence to the accusation. A supposed Volt owner tells how she loves her car because her friends think it looks like a spaceship and it saves a "crapload" of money.

Romney Wants Reexamination of GM Bankruptcy Process

The Detroit News reports that Mitt Romney wants a reexamination of the General Motors' bankruptcy proceedings. Mr. Romney is quoted as stating, "I think it's important for us to go back and look at what happened and take apart this bankruptcy process. See to what extent the finger of politics was placed on the scales of justice and see if we can't be more fair to the people involved in this process." I agree with the sentiment, but I do have to ask, where were the Republicans on this issue over two years ago?

Former CWA Treasurer in Illinois Indicted for Embezzlement

CWA logoOn January 10, Natasha Bever, former treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 4202, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois on one count of issuing unauthorized payroll checks to herself in the amount of $117,378. The union is based in Rantoul, Ill., near Champaign-Urbana. The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

West Virginia Maintenance of Way Secretary Sentenced for Theft

On January 9, Derrick George, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Local 76, a Teamsters affiliate, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to three years of probation, including eight months of home confinement, for embezzling $19,287.42 in funds from the Leon, W.V.-based union. He also will have to pay $17,932.07 in restitution. George had pleaded guilty in October after being indicted in July. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

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