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.

Financial Secretary of Texas Electrical Workers Local Pleads Guilty

IBEW logoOn April 3, James Jones, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 898, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to one count of embezzling $11,164 in general and apprenticeship training funds from the San Angelo union. He had been indicted in January for embezzlement of $11,551 following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Five in Florida Plead Guilty to Role in $400K+ Ironworkers Benefit Scam

Iron Workers logoLocal 808 of the International Association of Iron Workers has a generous annuity plan. Just ask Angela Deleon, its former third-party administrator who siphoned off a large portion of the money to herself and several associates. Yesterday, on April 23, five residents of Volusia County, Fla. pleaded guilty in Orlando federal court to participating in a scam engineered by Deleon that netted more than $400,000 from the plan, sponsored by the Orlando-based union. They were among nine persons charged early last month. Deleon already had been arrested more than a year ago; she eventually pleaded guilty and received a two-year prison sentence and a restitution order. None of the additional defendants are union members or benefit plan participants. Each faces up to five years in prison.

Metal Employees Secretary in Western Pennsylvania Sentenced

On March 27, Duane Rill, former secretary-treasurer of the Berry Metal Employees Association, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to six months of home detention and three years of probation for embezzling funds from the Cranberry Township, Pa.-based union in the amount of $13,496. He also was ordered to pay $896 in remaining restitution and a $100 special assessment, following his previous restitution payment of $12,600. Rill pleaded guilty last November and was indicted last May following an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ex-Operating Engineers Bookkeeper in Denver Sentenced

Operating Engineers logoOn March 25, Ronald Martin, former bookkeeper for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 9, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to five months of probation, and ordered to pay $30,338 in restitution and a $200 assessment, for embezzling funds from the Denver union. In addition, the court rejected his petition for an exemption from Section 504 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which bars persons convicted of certain crimes from serving as a union official or employee for at least 13 years. Martin pleaded guilty last November after being charged in October. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pittsburgh-Area Utility Workers President Pleads Guilty to Theft

Utility Workers logoOn March 20, John Vetterly Jr., former president of Utility Workers Union of American Local 475, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to embezzling $26,605 in funds from the Pittsburgh-area union. He had been indicted last October along with Local 475 Secretary-Treasurer John Baranski, the latter of whom had been accused of stealing $4,246 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Alabama Letter Carriers Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Letter Carriers logoOn March 20, Harold Ray, former secretary for National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 469 and the Alabama State Association of NALC, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama to one count of embezzling union funds in the amount of $38,565. He had been indicted in January. Branch 469 is located in Mobile; the state association is located in Birmingham. The indictment and guilty plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

UAW Drops Challenge to Chattanooga VW Plant Vote; Might Pursue Other Tactics

Bob KingThe United Auto Workers is a union that likes a good fight. But even its leaders recognize a lost cause - for now. This morning the union withdrew its appeal to the National Labor Relations Board challenging a secret ballot election held in mid-February that would have enabled it to represent workers at the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga. Despite having committed VW management to silence via neutrality agreement, the UAW lost by 712 to 626. The union immediately claimed the results were invalid as a result of undue interference by anti-union Tennessee public officials. On February 21, the UAW filed a request with the NLRB to overturn the vote. Yet today it dropped its suit.

Illinois Locomotive Engineers Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

BLET logoOn March 20, Robert Davis, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Division 644, a Teamsters affiliate, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to embezzling funds in the amount of $27,712 from the Galesburg-based union. He had been charged in July. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Secretary-Treasurer of Chicago SEIU Local Charged

Service Employees logoOn March 20, Rena Opre, former secretary-treasurer for Workers United Local 323, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in an information count of failing to disclose a material fact in a financial report filed in 2010 with the Department of Labor. No sum of funds was specified. Opre, 58, is a resident of Toledo; the local is based in Chicago. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Second Individual Pleads Guilty in MEBA Identity Theft Case

Marine Engineers logoOn March 26, Dianna Woodall pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of bank theft, and one count of aiding and abetting, for her role in cashing a $9,836 counterfeit check drawn on the account of Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) District 1, located in Washington, D.C., along with the union's national headquarters. Woodall had been charged on March 13. Earlier, on March 6, Kenneth Marshall Jr. pleaded guilty in the same court to cashing two counterfeit checks totaling $18,851 drawn on the MEBA District 1 bank account. A union spokesman had indicated that Marshall, not a union member, engaged in identity theft. The prosecutions follow a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Buffalo Jury Convicts Operating Engineers Boss; Acquits Four Others

Operating engineer at workWhen it comes to union violence, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 17, based near Buffalo, N.Y., has to rank as among its most obnoxious practitioners. The evidence of crime proved convincing enough for a federal jury last month to convict former local president and business manager Mark Kirsch on various racketeering-related charges. Yet the same jury in the six-week trial also acquitted four other defendants. Prosecutors alleged that all five union members were involved in repeated acts of vandalism of nonunion construction sites and terror against nonunion contractors and workers. The case had sprung open in 2008 with the indictment of a dozen persons, several of whom eventually pled guilty. While union leaders and their lawyers are cheering the outcome, it is highly unlikely the local can resume its mobster style of enforcement.

IATSE Secretary-Treasurer in Rhode Island Charged; Dies

IATSE logoJohn Brennan embezzled union funds to enhance his life. The stress of having been found out very likely contributed to his death. On March 19, Brennan, former secretary-treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 23, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island on 13 counts of stealing more than $74,000 in funds from the Providence union. The charges had followed a joint investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration. Sadly, only a couple weeks later, on April 3, the Providence Journal reported his death, which had occurred on March 29. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Providence confirmed to NLPC that the John Brennan indicated in the obituary was the same person named in the indictment. No cause of death was given.

Iron Workers Office Manager in Cincinnati Charged with Embezzlement

Iron Workers logoOn March 19, Julie Skaggs, former office manager for International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 372, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on one count of embezzling $51,491 in funds from the Cincinnati union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Kansas City, Kan. Independent Oil Workers Treasurer Sentenced

On March 17, Jesse Madrigal, former treasurer of the Independent Oil and Chemical Workers Union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to two years of probation and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment for embezzling $24,227 in funds from the Kansas City, Kansas-based union. He had pleaded guilty last November. Madrigal already had made full restitution in the amount of $30,607. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Machinists Business Agent in Minnesota Pleads Guilty

MachinistsOn March 14, James Kiser, former directing business representative for International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 165, pleaded guilty in Stearns County (Minn.) Court to one count of theft of over $1,000 from the St. Cloud-based labor organization. He had been charged in December 2012 with four counts of theft totaling $5,919. The charge and guilty plea follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Carpenters Local Secretary in Louisiana Pleads Guilty

Carpenters logoOn March 12, Jeanine Breaux, former office secretary for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 1846, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to embezzling funds in an unspecified sum from the Metairie, La. union. She had been charged in February. The charge and guilty plea follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New Orleans Ironworkers Secretary Pleads Guilty to Theft

Iron Workers logoOn March 12, Andrea Hobgood, former secretary for International Association of Iron Workers Local 58, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to embezzling an unspecified sum of funds from the New Orleans-based union. She had been charged in January. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NLRB Forces Unionism on NCAA Sports

Northwestern footballIt's hard to imagine a blurring of the line between amateur and professional sports more flagrant than the National Labor Relations Board Chicago regional office ruling last Wednesday that Northwestern football players, as "employees," are eligible to unionize. Cheerleaders for the decision include the United Steelworkers and the NFL Players Association. This is to be expected. Unions envision more members, dues and bargaining power. Though the NLRB decision applies only to athletes on scholarship at private institutions, only the naïve would believe it won't influence practices at state schools - or the willingness of unions to organize players at either.

Twin Cities-Area CWA Shop Chairman Pleads Guilty to Theft; Sentenced

Communications Workers logoOn March 12, Jason Brown, former shop chairman of Communications Workers of America Local 87140, pleaded guilty in Hennepin County (Minnesota) District Court to theft in an amount of over $1,000 from the Minneapolis-based union. He then was sentenced to one year and one day of confinement (stayed for five years), but ordered to serve 90 days of confinement in addition to five years of probation. He also was ordered to pay $3,905 in restitution less what he previously had paid. Brown had been charged last November. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Sheet Metal Workers Business Manager in Oklahoma Charged; Pleads Guilty

Sheet Metal Workers logoOn March 11, Michael Couch, former business manager of Sheet Metal Workers Local 270, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma with false entry and concealment of facts in financial records of the Tulsa union. He then pleaded guilty. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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