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.

Railroad Workers Secretary-Treasurer in Kansas Sentenced

BLET logoOn January 5, Dale Hull, formerly secretary-treasurer for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 261, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution, for embezzling funds from the Herington, Kan.-based union, a Teamsters affiliate. He had pleaded guilty in September after being charged in July. Hull admitted that starting in 2008 he made unauthorized account transfers from the union account to a personal checking account and then concealed the thefts on financial reporting forms. The union represents Union Pacific Railroad employees in Herington and Salina. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of Michigan Retail Workers Local Charged with Embezzlement

Retail Workers Union logoOn December 11, Edward Feld, former president of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 374, was charged in the 10th District Court of Calhoun County, Michigan, with one count of felony embezzlement from the Battle Creek union in an amount of at least $1,000 but less than $20,000. RWDSU is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

SE Virginia Letter Carriers Local Secretary-Treasurer Charged; Pleads Guilty

NALC logoOn December 17, Choi Hawks, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of embezzling $10,744 from the Chesapeake, Va.-based union after being charged on November 14. The charge and guilty plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

CWA Secretary-Treasurer in Dallas Admits to Embezzlement

Communications Workers logoSharon Ratcliff had a lot of expenses to cover. Unfortunately, she used her union as a personal bank. On November 14, Ratcliff, formerly secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 6150, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas with embezzling more than $75,000 in funds from the Dallas-based union. Six days later, on November 20, she filed a factual resume with the court, effectively pleading guilty. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Top Ten logoIf the year 2014 had a main theme, it was, as in 2013, the unions' pursuit of legal advantage. The results were mixed. Unions scored victories at the National Labor Relations Board, but they tasted defeat in the courts, most notably in their effort to unionize private home care providers in Illinois and overturn a Wisconsin law reining in public-sector costs. In another bitter pill, the United Auto Workers last February lost a representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. As for dipping their hands in tills, national union leaders generally behaved themselves, but many local bosses, office employees and business agents did not.

Locomotive Engineers Secretary in Tennessee Sentenced

BLET logoReda Overton isn't likely to be feeling well in the near future. On November 10, Overton, former executive secretary to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), General Committee of Adjustment 4-175, a Teamsters affiliate, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee to 18 months of imprisonment and three months of probation for embezzling $206,056 from the Tennessee office of the Kentucky-based union. She also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 assessment.

Ex-AFGE President in El Paso Indicted for Theft

AFGE logoOn December 10, Paul Florez, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3922, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas with intent to steal property in the amount of $59,709. The union represents VA Hospital employees in El Paso. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Washington, D.C. Security Professionals Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced

SPFPA logoOn November 25, Milton Hilliard, former secretary-treasurer of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America Local 287, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 180 days of home confinement with electronic monitoring and three years of probation for embezzling $34,612 from the Washington, D.C. union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution plus a $4,000 fine. Hilliard had pleaded guilty in August after being indicted in July. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NLRB Issues Final 'Ambush Election' Rule; Employer Groups File Suit

NLRBThe National Labor Relations Board lately appears to believe that if an aspect of labor law isn't broke, fix it anyway. Unions certainly are comfortable with that. On December 15, the NLRB published a final rule that would dramatically shorten the duration between a union's filing of a petition to represent workers and the holding of a vote. This 'ambush' or 'quickie' election rule, under the guise of promoting fairness and efficiency, would throw roadblocks in front of an employer seeking to respond to union organizer arguments. The board issued its preliminary rule last February after a Washington, D.C. federal court in May 2012 had struck down a similar mandate on procedural grounds. Last Monday, January 5, a coalition of trade groups filed suit to block the rule, set to take effect on April 14. As before, at stake is the right of workers to choose whether to belong to a union.

Pittsburgh Sheet Metal Workers Ex-Office Manager Pleads Guilty

Sheet Metal Workers logoOn November 24, Jennifer Gent, former office manager for Sheet Metal Workers Local 12, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to embezzling $30,297 from the Pittsburgh-based union's Journeymen Apprentice Training Fund. She had been indicted in April. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Letter Carriers President in Virginia Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Letter Carriers logoOn November 20, Jeffrey Jones, former president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $7,649 from the Chesapeake, Va.-based union. He had been charged in October. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Convicted NYC Bus Drivers Union Boss Pleads Guilty to New Offense

School busWarren Annunziata officially ceased to lead United Craft and Industrial Workers Union Local 91 several years ago. His problem these days is not being able to accept that. On November 24, Annunziata pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to violating a federal ban on union participation by union officials and trustees convicted of serious corruption offenses. And Annunziata was corrupt. Back in 2010, he had pleaded guilty to forcibly extracting more than $600,000 in cash payments from bus companies that provide transportation for public school students in New York City and parts of neighboring Westchester County, N.Y. His prison sentence apparently wasn't enough to keep him from collecting handsomely at the expense of dues-paying members.

Boston Teamsters Convicted of Extortion, Racketeering

Teamsters logoInternational Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 82 over several years perfected the art of the shakedown. In response, a federal jury has created a shakeup. On November 19, after a seven-week trial, John Perry and Joseph "Jo Jo" Burhoe, respectively, ex-president and representative of the now-defunct Boston local, were convicted on various counts of racketeering and conspiracy related to extortion at Boston trade shows. They and two other union members, James "Jimmy the Bull" Deamicis and Thomas Flaherty, allegedly forced exhibitors to provide cash and/or union jobs as a prerequisite for having their trucks loaded and unloaded, and their booths set up. The jury could not reach a verdict on Deamicis; it acquitted Flaherty. The defendants had been indicted in September 2012 following a joint investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor, and Boston police.

Wisconsin AFGE Local President Pleads No Contest; Sentenced

AFGE logoOn November 5, Christopher Zawikowski, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3495, pleaded no contest in the Adams County, Wisconsin District Court to one count of theft in an amount of less than $2,500 from the Grand Marsh, Wisc.-based union. He then was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to pay $1,400 in restitution. Zawikowski had been charged in July 2013. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Bricklayers Treasurer in Ohio Pleads Guilty to Theft

Bricklayers logoOn November 4, Brian Stoneburner, former treasurer for International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 44, pleaded guilty in the Perry County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas to one count of grand theft in the amount of $13,235 from the Newark, Ohio union. Stoneburner had been indicted in July. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

SEIU Local Secretary-Treasurer in Ohio Sentenced

Service Employees logoOn October 23, Rena Opre, former secretary-treasurer for Service Employees International Union Local 323, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to paying a $250 fine and a $25 special assessment for falsifying financial records of the Chicago-based union. Opre, a resident of Toledo, had pleaded guilty in May after being charged in March. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Postal Workers Treasurer in South Dakota Indicted for Embezzlement

APWU logoOn November 4, Susan Haugen, former treasurer of the South Dakota chapter of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota with three counts of embezzling $36,309 in funds from the Huron, S.D.-based union. According to the grand jury indictment, Haugen, now 55, during May 2010-March 2014 made about $25,000 in unauthorized cash withdrawals and spent another $11,000 with the union credit and debit cards, all for personal expenses. The charges follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

BLET Secretary in Chicago Charged with Records Fraud; Pleads Guilty

BLET logoOn November 3, Kimberly Hesla, former secretary-treasurer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 474, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to falsifying financial records of the Chicago union. She had been charged a week earlier on October 27. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Maintenance of Way Secretary in Kansas City, Mo. Pleads Guilty

Maintenance of WayBrotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Lodge 800 is almost depleted of its funds.  And that has a lot to do with the employee who not too long ago handled them. On October 29, Jeremy Bolte, formerly lodge secretary-treasurer, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri with embezzling more than $12,000 from the Kansas City, Mo. union. He then pleaded guilty to 10 counts of embezzlement. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. The union represents Kansas City-area employees of BNSF Railway.

New Jersey ILA Building Contractor Sentenced for Fraud

Longshoremen at workRaymond Norville was a home renovation contractor. Somehow he took that to mean a right to take client money without necessarily doing renovations. On November 18, Norville, owner of an Essex County, N.J.-based construction firm, RRL Unique Homes Inc., was sentenced in Trenton federal court to 14 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release and full payment of restitution, for defrauding a customer in New York City of nearly $100,000 in connection with a residential remodeling project. As part of a plea agreement in June, prosecutors dismissed charges that Norville defrauded the Newark-based International Longshoremen's Association Local 1233 of at least $100,000. Norville was lucky. Evidence strongly suggests his union thefts totaled around $370,000.

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