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 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 principle 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.

Suburban NYC Teachers Union Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Nearly $800K in Thefts

American Federation of Teachers logoEducators normally aren't the kinds of people who steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. Frank Gluberman is the exception to the rule. On August 13, Gluberman, formerly teacher and then assistant principal at Woodlands High School in Greenburgh, N.Y., pleaded guilty in Westchester County Criminal Court to embezzling nearly $800,000 over a seven-year period from his union, the Greenburgh Teachers' Federation (GTF), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. Gluberman had been arrested this past January in the wake of an internal union audit and subsequent U.S. Department of Labor investigation. He faces up to 15 years in prison at sentencing in December, though the plea agreement calls for a one-to-three year sentence upon full payment of restitution.

Alaska Carpenters Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Carpenters logoOn August 8, Jonathan Smith, former financial secretary of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2247, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to embezzling $41,770 from the Juneau union over a five-year period. He had been indicted in April following an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Treasurer in Oregon Pleads Guilty to Theft; Sentenced

United Steelworkers logoOn August 7, Brandon Kent, former treasurer for United Steelworkers Local 12-1097, pleaded guilty in the State of Oregon, Circuit Court of Clatsop County (in the northwest corner of the state), to two counts of theft from the Westport, Ore.-based union. He then was sentenced to 30 days in prison and three years of supervised probation, and was ordered to pay $19,911 in restitution and a $200 fine. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Security Professionals Secretary-Treasurer in Washington, D.C. Pleads Guilty

Security Professionals logoOn August 28, Milton Hilliard, former secretary-treasurer of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America Local 287, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $34,612 from the Washington, D.C.-based union. He had made unauthorized cash withdrawals and personal purchases from a union account. Hilliard had been charged in July with embezzling $25,575. The charge and plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Maryland Building Contractor Pleads Guilty to IBEW Benefits Fraud

IBEW logoMichael Sewell avoided making benefit contributions by avoiding the necessary paperwork. His good luck streak was bound to end. On August 27, Sewell, owner-operator of MESCO Inc., a suburban Baltimore HVAC and plumbing supplier-service contractor, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to one count of falsifying a document related to a benefit plan sponsored by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 24. Sewell had been charged in July following a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General.

Unions Renew Misguided $15/hr. Fast Food Minimum Wage Campaign

minimum wage protestLabor officials are about the last people to be impressed by evidence that hiking the minimum wage drives up entry-level unemployment. These last several weeks they've been putting words into action in targeting fast food restaurants. Unions, led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), are retooling their campaign to establish a $15 an hour minimum wage for fast food employees, more than double the current $7.25 an hour basic federal minimum. Hundreds of protestors, though not necessarily union members, were arrested for blocking traffic on Labor Day. President Obama voiced his approval of the campaign that day in a speech. And the SEIU has called for a nationwide strike.

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