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.

Laborers Bookkeeper in Alabama Sentenced for Making False Statements about Thefts

LIUNA logoAmy Atherton's original story sounded fishy. Eventually, prosecutors discovered the real one. On September 25, Atherton, a former bookkeeper with Laborers International Union of North America Local 366, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to six months in prison and three years of probation, including six months of home detention, for making false statements in relation to the disappearance of nearly $175,000 in funds from the Sheffield, Ala. union. She also will have to pay full restitution. Atherton had pleaded guilty in June following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Secretary-Treasurer of Mississippi Maintenance of Way Local Sentenced

Maintenance of Way logoOn September 8, Henry Hull Jr., former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division Lodge 654, a Teamsters affiliate, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee to one year of home confinement with electronic monitoring and three years of probation for embezzling funds from the Southaven, Miss. (Memphis-area) union. He also was ordered to pay a fine of $1,500 and an assessment of $100. Hull had pleaded guilty in June after being indicted in January for theft in the amount of $8,240. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Australian Health Care Boss Williamson Sentenced; Inquiry Continues

Sydney harborIn Australia, investigations of labor corruption go all out. Recent leaders of that country's Health Services Union no doubt wish that wasn't the case. This March, former HSU National President Michael Williamson was sentenced in Sydney District Court to up to seven-and-a-half years in prison for fleecing his union of about AUD$1 million, though the true total of his thefts may have run well into the millions. He had pleaded guilty last October. A union commission is continuing its search for answers in this scandal. Recently-released phone recordings have confirmed Williamson directed his HSU East Branch successor to block a police probe. And the union has sued its former national secretary, Kathy Jackson, for diverting $660,000 toward personal expenses. Jackson denies all wrongdoing, saying the charges are the work of opponents bent on punishing her prior whistle-blowing.

UAW Wears Out Welcome at Alabama Mercedes Plant

Mercedes TuscaloosaWhen it comes to organizing German-owned facilities in the U.S., the United Auto Workers can't be accused of shyness - or it would seem, transparency. For the past several months, the union, led since early June by its new president, Dennis Williams, has been stepping up its campaign to represent Mercedes-Benz workers in central Alabama. The UAW, still smarting from its election defeat this February at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., is aware that victory is unlikely. To overcome disadvantage, organizers apparently have been resorting to misinformation. They've been telling workers that federal law bars them from discussing pay and working conditions unless they belong to a union.

Auto Workers Local Secretary in Indiana Charged

Auto Workers logoOn September 17, Marcia Shull, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 661, was charged in an information count in Hancock County, Indiana Circuit Court with theft and forgery of unspecified sums from the Greenfield, Ind.-based union. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Founder of Washington, D.C. Security Unions Sentenced for Thefts

Security guardOn September 17, J.C. Stamps, founder and former executive director of the National Union of Protective Services Associations and the National Union of Law Enforcement Associations, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to nine months in prison, three years of supervised probation, and 100 hours of community service, for embezzling nearly $200,000 from benefit plans of the Washington, D.C.-based unions. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $192,091. Stamps, a Washington, D.C. cop prior to founding the unions, had pleaded guilty in June following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration, and Office of Inspector General.

New Orleans-Area Carpenters Secretary Sentenced for Embezzlement

Carpenters logoOn September 17, Jeanine Breaux, former secretary-bookkeeper for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 1846, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to three years of probation, and ordered to pay $82,414 in restitution and a $100 assessment, for embezzling funds from the Metairie-based union. She had pleaded guilty in March after being charged in February. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of AFSCME Home Care Affiliate in NYC Pleads Guilty

AFSCME logoOn September 16, Juanita Phillips, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 389, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court of the State of New York to one count of grand larceny in an unspecified amount against the New York City-based home care employees union. The guilty plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New Report Exposes Local Government 'Labor Peace' Agreements

Labor Peace AgreementsUnion officials often are best prepared for war when invoking the specter of "peace." A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "Labor Peace Agreements: Local Government as Union Advocate," explains why these agreements are the result of union pressure, subtle or otherwise. In such cases, a city, county or state government, having asserted a "proprietary interest" in existing or planned commercial facilities such as hotels or a sports arena, passes an ordinance requiring that a union and/or employer forgo certain rights protected by federal labor law. On the surface, these measures promote a level playing field. In practice, they are political gifts to unions. Currently, 11 states impose, or allow locally, such mandates. In response, at least three states have banned their use.

Teamsters Local Clerk in Indiana Pleads Guilty to Theft

Teamsters logoOn September 4, Celia Ferrand, former payroll clerk for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 135, pleaded guilty in Marion County, Indiana Superior Court to one count of receiving stolen property. She then was sentenced to 730 days on probation and ordered to pay $6,000 in restitution. The union, with nearly 15,000 members, is based in Indianapolis. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Fire Fighters Treasurer in California Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

IAFF logoOn September 3, Paul Vargas, former treasurer of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 102-F, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California to misdemeanor theft in the amount of $120 from the Lemoore, Calif. (in the San Joaquin Valley) union. He then was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and 250 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay $11,065 in restitution, a $1,000 fine and a $25 special assessment. The plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Western Pennsylvania Glass Workers Treasurer Sentenced

GMP logoOn September 2, David Barr, former treasurer of Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers Local 99, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation for embezzling $5,688 in funds from the Beaver County, Pa.-based union. He also was ordered to pay outstanding restitution of $3,745 and a $100 special assessment. He had pleaded guilty in April after being charged in August 2013. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Former ILA Officials in New Jersey Plead Guilty to Extortion

Longshoremen at workNorthern New Jersey's International Longshoremen's Association Local 1235 has remained a profit center for the Genovese crime family despite the reform process set in motion by various prosecutions and an ILA takeover. That reality was brought home on October 15 when Robert Ruiz, an ex-local delegate to the parent union, was sentenced in Newark federal court to 20 months in prison, plus two years of supervised release, for his role in a racket to extort payments from members during Christmas season. He had pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy. Ruiz is among more than a dozen defendants in the case.

Ex-SEIU Local Treasurer in Los Angeles Pleads Guilty to Theft

Service Employees logo On September 8, Cedric Hughes, former treasurer of the United Union of Professionals, also known as Service Employees International Union Local 721, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to one count of embezzlement of funds from the Los Angeles union in the amount of $15,193. The union represents local health care workers. Hughes had been indicted last December on five counts of wire fraud and one count of embezzlement following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

IBEW Local Business Manager in Texas Sentenced for Theft

IBEW logoOn September 12, James Jones, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 898, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to six months in prison and three months of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment, for embezzling funds from the San Angelo-based union in the amount of $11,164. Jones, indicted in January, had pleaded guilty in April. He already has paid full restitution. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ohio Steelworkers Local Financial Secretary Pleads Guilty

Steelworkers logoOn September 12, Robert Mays, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 561, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $24,833. He had been charged in July. The charge and guilty plea follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Wisconsin Local Steelworkers President Charged with Theft

Steelworkers logo On August 15, Arthur Homa, former president of Steelworkers Local 2-47, was charged in Brown County, Wisconsin Circuit Court with one count of felony theft in an amount between $2,500 and $5,000 from the Green Bay union. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer in Central Illinois Sentenced

AFSCME logoOn August 27, Robert Lewis, former secretary-treasurer for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3585, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to four months in prison and one year of supervised release, with the first eight months in home confinement, for embezzling $77,469 in funds from the Canton (near Peoria), Ill.-based union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 assessment. Lewis had pleaded guilty in April. AFSCME Local 3585 represents employees at the Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton. The actions follow the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Transportation Union Treasurer in Nebraska Indicted for Embezzlement

United Transportation Union logoOn August 19, Richard Molczyk, former treasurer for United Transportation Union Local 493, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska for embezzlement of $13,196 in funds from the Omaha union. The indictment, which was unsealed on September 4, follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Why Is California Labor Board Trying to Force Union Membership on Farm Workers?

farm workersUnder federal law, workers have as much right to leave a union as they do to form one. Yet that principal may not necessarily apply in California. For at least the past year a de facto alliance between the United Farm Workers (UFW) and a state agency, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, has been making it very difficult for employees of a major grower, the Fresno-based Gerawan Farming, to decertify the UFW as their bargaining agent. And the workers are signaling their frustration. On August 26, hundreds of Gerawan workers marched on the board's Visalia regional office to demand a count of a decertification vote held last November. The board's justification for its inaction is that Gerawan broke the law in various ways. Yet there has been no investigation of the UFW-driven allegations.

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