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.

Canadian Legislation Would Require Union Transparency

Canadian flagLabor leaders don't like it when they have to open their books to public inspection. Those in Canada apparently aren't much different from the ones in this country. Canadian lawmakers currently are considering private legislation, Public Financial Disclosure for Labour Organizations, to include unions as among the organizations required to furnish financial data. Sponsors say the measure, alternately known as C-377, is needed to combat corruption and foster transparency. Union leaders insist that compliance would be unjustifiably costly and time-consuming. If this sounds familiar, it should.

Massachusetts Steelworkers Ex-President Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn May 31, Stennett Bernard, former president of United Steelworkers Local 421-04, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to one count each of conspiracy and embezzlement. Bernard had been one of four persons indicted in October 2010 for embezzling a combined roughly $7,000 from the Brockton union; his share of the alleged take was $4,320.94. The indictment and guilty plea in this case follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Novelty Workers President in New Jersey Pleads Guilty

On May 31, Stephen Arena, former president of Local 148 of the International Union of Allied Novelty and Production Workers, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to embezzling $193,000 in funds from the Jersey City, N.J.-based union. Arena, along with the union's secretary treasurer, David Caivano, had been arrested in September 2010 for stealing a combined more than $375,000 during July 2005-March 2010. The arrests took place in conjunction with a 29-count indictment by a Newark federal grand jury. The pair routinely awarded themselves unauthorized raises, bonuses and paid vacations. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Non-Union Retirees Join “Hosed by GM Club”

The president of the GM Retirees Association, Jim Shepherd, sent a scathing letter last week to GM CEO, Dan Akerson. The letter was in response to General Motors' decision to modify pension plans for non-union retirees. Mr. Shepherd stated that the non-union retirees wanted to express their "absolute consternation and disgust" and described the move by GM as not being only unfair but, "it is sheer irresponsibility and greed."

Alaska Sheet Metal Workers Office Manager Sentenced for Theft

Sheet Metal Workers logoOn May 22, Carole Reeves, former office manager for Sheet Metal Workers Local 23, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to three years of probation and fined $6,000 for embezzling funds from the Anchorage local. Reeves had been charged in January with stealing $19,663.33 through the use of unauthorized union credit card purchases. Immediately after that, she signed a plea agreement enabling her to avoid prison time. By then she already had repaid the full amount embezzled. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Kentucky UAW Ex-President Pleads Guilty to Records Fraud; Sentenced

UAW logoOn May 21, Thomas Coffey, former president of United Auto Workers Local 912, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to one count of making false statements in the Lexington-based union's records during 2005-08. He then was sentenced to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $7,358.21 in restitution and a $25 assessment. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Fire Fighters President in Rhode Island Charged with Embezzlement

On May 17, Joseph Palumbo, former president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 100, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island with embezzlement and fraudulent conversion in the amount of $1,541.91 from the Newport-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pennsylvania Local IBEW Office Manager Charged; Pleads Guilty

IBEW logoLibby Stegner helped herself at the expense of union members for a half-decade. Now she has the pay the tab. On May 16, Stegner, former office manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1319, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania with one count of embezzling $41,861 in funds from the Wilkes-Barre union. Two weeks later, on May 30, she pleaded guilty.

Wisconsin Recall Vote Exposes Vulnerability of Public-Sector Unions

Scott Walker photoTo his sworn enemies, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker's victory last Tuesday over Democratic challenger Tom Barrett by 53 to 46 percent has been hard to spin and to accept. The biggest loser, aside from Barrett himself, is the state's public-sector labor unions. There's not much getting around it. It was public-sector unions who led the effort to recall Walker following passage by the legislature over a year ago of a fiscal reform package that included several tough limitations on collective bargaining power. Unions and allied groups by this January gathered nearly a million signatures to put a recall on the ballot.

Why Some Americans Will Never Buy a GM Vehicle

I recently wrote about a boycott of General Motors' products that was contributing to the company losing market share. The Heritage Foundation now has come out with a report that analyzes the wealth redistribution which occurred during the Obama Administration orchestrated GM bankruptcy process. This redistribution saw money taken from US taxpayers and GM bondholders and given to the politically powerful UAW. The unethical behavior at Government Motors, which has been occurring both during and since the bankruptcy process, gives reason enough to those paying attention to eliminate GM vehicles from the many quality choices offered to new car shoppers.

Akerson Admits GM Bankruptcy Not Well Thought Out

Akerson photoGeneral Motors CEO, Dan Akerson, discussed some of the issues plaguing GM's share price in today's Wall Street Journal. Akerson laments a bloated bureaucracy at Government Motors that has not greatly improved since the company's 2009 bankruptcy process. Despite admitting that the bankruptcy was rushed through without proper planning, the Obama-appointed Akerson did not mention the continued UAW overhangs at the company.

Michigan Plant Protection Local Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced

Security guardOn May 15, Carol Wethington, former secretary-treasurer of Plant Protection Association (PPA) Local 103, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $25 special assessment for making false entries in financial records of the Dearborn union. She previously had paid restitution of an unspecified sum after pleading guilty in February. The PPA is headquartered in Ypsilanti, Mich., and represents plant security employees in several Midwest cities. The sentencing follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

South Dakota AFGE Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

AFGE logoOn May 14, William Bilger, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3365, pleaded guilty in Pennington County, South Dakota District Court to petty theft in an amount greater than $400 and less than $1,000 from the Rapid City union. He then was sentenced to pay restitution of $2,137 within one year, plus all grand jury costs. The plea and sentencing follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

General Motors Still a Risky Bet for Retail Investors

GM stock price imageThe new General Motors will be turning three years old in early July. GM's rocky childhood has given evidence to what disadvantage small investors are at when it comes to making educated equity investment choices. Let's look at some of the lessons to be learned from one of history's largest busted IPOs (along with the recent Facebook debacle) and consider the current underreported risk factors.

South Jersey Cops Arrested, Charged with Theft from PBA

Police officerPolice officers normally make arrests for theft. Some, unfortunately, get arrested for theft. Steven Buglio and William Newman belong to the latter category. Buglio and Newman, members of the Vineland, New Jersey police force, were charged on February 17 with mishandling an unspecified sum of funds from the union they helped run, Policemen's Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 266. The pair had turned themselves into police headquarters that day; each was charged with four third-degree offenses. They also were removed from their union positions by the state PBA chapter and suspended without pay from their daily police officer jobs. No further action has been reported in the more than three months since.

Plumbers Business Manager in Southern Illinois Pleads Guilty

Plumbers logoBill Adrian treated his union's funds as though they were his own. Then reality intruded. Adrian, formerly business manager and secretary-Treasurer of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 101, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, May 30 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to theft from a union benefit plan and falsifying data in financial reports. While prosecutors didn't specify the exact amount stolen, they did say, in the context of federal sentencing guidelines, that the total came to somewhere between $70,000 and $120,000. Sentencing itself is scheduled for September 10.

Michigan Machinists Local Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty

On May 10, Renita Dompier, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists Local Lodge 283, pleaded guilty to embezzling $8,725.99 in funds from the Baraga, Mich. (Upper Peninsula) union. She had been indicted in March for embezzlement and falsifying union records. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Machinists Business Agent in Virginia Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On May 10, Jeff Agee, former business representative for International Association of Machinists Local Lodge 10, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to embezzling $4,181.62 in funds from the Richmond union. He had been charged in April. The charge and guilty plea follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Iron Workers Secretary-Treasurer in New Jersey Sentenced for $560K+ Theft

Ironworkers logoConsidering the size of his take, James J. Kearney Jr. probably got off easy. On May 10, Kearney, formerly secretary-treasurer of Local 45 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers (IAIW), was sentenced in Trenton federal court to 30 months in prison and three years probation for embezzling more than $560,000 from the Jersey City, N.J. construction union. He also will have to pay full restitution and a $100 special assessment. Kearney pleaded guilty last November. This case is separate from an ongoing one involving his father, former Local 45 business manager James Kearney Sr., arrested last November for soliciting and receiving cash bribes to allow contractors to hire nonunion workers. The international union late last year placed the local under trusteeship.

New Mexico Steelworkers Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced

Steelworkers logoOn May 8, Thomas Chavez, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 12-659, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service for embezzling $16,965.54 in funds from the Questa, N.M.-based union. Chavez pleaded guilty last December after being indicted that April. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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