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 York IATSE Boss Indicted; DOL Sues Benefits Trustees

IATSE logoFor more than seven years, John McNamee, Jr. avoided getting caught. Then reality caught up. On February 15, McNamee, formerly president and secretary-treasurer of Stage and Picture Operators Local 829, an affiliate of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), was indicted in Manhattan federal court on charges of embezzling nearly a quarter-million dollars from the New York City union and filing false financial reports. The following day, on February 16, he was arrested and arraigned. The union is also on the hot seat in a much more expensive way. On March 14, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) filed suit against the trustees of the local pension plan, alleging they had conducted more than $3 million worth of illegal transactions since 2006 and had failed to perform due diligence in managing another $11 million in assets.

Pittsburgh-Area Transit Workers President Indicted for Embezzlement

Transit busOn February 15, Thomas Conley, former president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1738, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania for embezzling $15,432.26 from the Latrobe union and falsifying records to conceal the thefts. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Illinois Local Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for False Record-Keeping

On February 28, Mary Lynn Otten, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Musicians Local 26, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to two years probation for filing a false financial report on behalf of the Peoria-based union. She also was ordered to pay $5,032.50 in restitution and a $25 special assessment. Otten had been charged in November and pleaded guilty immediately afterward. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

White House First to Say Chevy Volt Not Ready For Prime Time

Steve Rattner photoMitt Romney has been criticized for stating that the Chevy Volt is an idea whose time has not come. We have gotten to a stage in the election cycle where even the slightest of criticisms against the Volt leads to outcries of a right wing, "wrong-headed" conspiracy to hurt sales of the vehicle. What has not been reported is the fact that the Obama White House was the first to say that the car was not ready for prime time.

Southern Ohio Transit Union Chieftain Indicted for Time Theft

City busClaude Huff put in a long work week. The problem is that the extra hours most likely were fictitious. Huff, former president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385, which represents nearly 500 drivers and technicians for the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA), was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on February 14 for embezzlement in an amount exceeding $100,000. Huff had resigned his union post in November 2010, a day before he was supposed to go before a union hearing on allegations that he overpaid himself by claiming hours not worked. Earlier that June, he had stepped down from his RTA position. In a separate action, the international union late in 2010 placed the local under trusteeship.

Upstate New York Steelworkers Local President Sentenced

Steelworkers logoOn February 14, Guy Masocco, former president of United Steelworkers of America Local 897, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to 10 months of home confinement and three years of probation for embezzling from the Cheektowaga, N.Y. (near Buffalo) union, which represents workers at ITT Heat Transfer Inc. He also was ordered to pay $31,701 in restitution. Prosecutors had charged Masocco during December 2004-November 2009 used his union credit card to pay for unauthorized personal expenses. He eventually pleaded guilty in August. The guilty plea and sentencing follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Secretary-Treasurer in Arizona Indicted for Theft

Postal Workers logoOn February 7, Christina Carr, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 7008, was indicted in Navajo County (Ariz.) Superior Court on one count of theft or embezzlement in an amount greater than $4,000. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFL-CIO Endorses Obama; Gears Up Campaign Volunteer Army

Obama and Trumka photoIn the eyes of the AFL-CIO, a president can never lean too far leftward. But if President Obama hasn't made all the right moves, he's made enough of them to win its support. On March 13, the federation's 57-member executive council met in a closed-door session in Orlando, Florida to unanimously endorse Barack Obama for re-election. "We will continue to have disagreements with him (Obama)," said federation President Richard Trumka after the vote. "But we've never doubted one thing: We've never doubted he's a friend of working people and he's the best out there."

GM Lithium Battery Explosion Warrants Unbiased Investigation

General Motors has been quick to allay concerns that the Chevy Volt had anything to do with an explosion at a testing facility that appears to have injured five workers, one possibly seriously. The explosion has been attributed to gases from a lithium-based prototype battery being developed at GM's tech center. While the incident should not serve as an indictment against the Volt, concerns about volatile lithium-ion batteries are legitimate.

Is Misplaced Focus on Chevy Volt Costing GM Market Share?

Another important story goes unreported by TV networks receiving millions of dollars in ad revenue from General Motors. Viewers getting their news from Obama-friendly sources continue to hear about how great GM is doing. For those getting their news from internet sites not beholden to Government Motors, the reports aren't as good. March US market share for GM fell to 17.5% in March, the lowest level for "Old" or "New" GM since 1922.

Secretary of Midwest Carpenters Council Charged; Pleads Guilty

President Bush speaks before the CarpentersLaura Dixon's attorney had insisted that his client's thefts were motivated by a concern for the welfare of union members. In the end, that would have been too much for a jury to accept. On March 13, Dixon, formerly office secretary for the Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to embezzling between $70,000 and a little above $170,000 from the Toledo, Ohio-based labor organization. She had been charged on February 23. The union, recently merged into an entity known as the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, represents about 17,000 workers in 33 locals. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Central California Firefighters Treasurer Charged with $100K+ in Thefts

Clovis Firefighters Association logo John Morton Watson intends to repay his union in full. Before that happens, however, he may have to serve some prison time. Watson, former treasurer of his union, the Clovis Firefighters Association, was charged in Fresno County Superior Court on March 27 with embezzling as much as $150,000 from the association over a more than six-year period. Watson pleaded not guilty. He previously had surrendered to police and was released on his own recognizance. Watson's next hearing is set for May 1. The union, also known as Local 1695 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, is based in Clovis, a city of about 100,000 near Fresno.

NY Times Chevy Volt Criticism Confounds Proponents

Volt photoThe report by the NY Times that it would take up to 27 years for Chevy Volt buyers to save enough money in gas costs to make up for the high price of the car must be very confusing for apologists of the vehicle. The normal defense for any criticism is to accuse sources of having a right wing hate of the car. But the NY Times? The very vocal Volt defenders, who are quick to attack anyone who doesn't agree that the car is a technological marvel worthy of billions of dollars of taxpayer largess, will have to attribute the left-leaning Times' criticism to something other than a political agenda.

New Jersey Transportation Workers Local President Sentenced

UTU logoOn February 9, Jose Rivera, former president and secretary-treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 710, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to three years probation and ordered to pay the remaining balance of restitution for accepting an illegal loan of more than $14,000 while serving as an officer of the Newark-based union. He had pleaded guilty last July. The union represents Coach USA bus drivers in northern New Jersey. The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Headquarters Ex-Staffers Charged with Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn February 7, two former staff representatives at the United Steelworkers' national office in Pittsburgh were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania for embezzling union funds. One defendant, Robert Misuraca, now an official with United Steelworkers Local 1000 in Corning, N.Y., allegedly stole $17,566.21.  The other defendant, Curtis Reed, allegedly stole $3,694.32. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

CWA Local President in Minnesota Sentenced for Theft

CWA logoOn February 6, Michelle Jean Nelson, former president of Communications Workers of America Local 7272, was sentenced to 45 days home confinement and 10 years probation for theft from the Erskine, Minn. (near Grand Forks, N.D.) union. She also was ordered to pay $4,634.22 in restitution, plus a $100 fine and $160 in special assessments and fees. Nelson in November 2011 entered an Alford plea of guilt after being charged that March. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-Nebraska Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Theft; Sentenced

Lincoln police logoCassandra Briggs may have been a good cop, but she wasn't a very good manager of union funds. This Tuesday, April 3, Briggs was sentenced in Lancaster County (Neb.) District Court to between two and five years in prison for embezzling more than $11,000 from Lincoln Police Union Charities over a more than two-year period. She pleaded guilty this January after leaving the force the previous April. Briggs has until June 3 to turn herself in, and must serve one year before becoming eligible for parole.

Minnesota Postal Workers Local Secretary Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

Postal Workers logoOn March 6, Cherity Perez, former secretary-treasurer of American Postal Workers Union Local 631, was sentenced in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota District Court to 15 days of home confinement and two years of probation for theft of funds from the Willmar union. She also will have to pay additional restitution of $95.80, plus $90 in court fees, after previously making restitution in the amount of $1,144. Perez had been charged last August with theft of $1,240 and pleaded guilty in February. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Secretary-Treasurer of Michigan Plant Protection Workers Local Pleads Guilty

On February 2, Carol Wethington, former secretary-treasurer of Plant Protection Association (PPA) Local 103, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to making false entries in records of the Dearborn-based local. She had been charged in September. The PPA is headquartered in Ypsilanti, Mich., and represents security employees in several Midwest cities. The charge and guilty plea follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Kansas City, Mo. AFGE Ex-President Pleads Guilty to Fraud

AFGE logoOn February 1, Kelley Dull, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 4094 in Kansas City, Mo. and AFGE Council 171 in Cleveland, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to one count of wire fraud in the amount of $32,118.66 against the Kansas City, Mo. local union. The guilty plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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