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.

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.

AFGE Local President in Tennessee Charged with Fraud

AFGE logoOn October 15, Shiryll Durham, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1687, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee with two counts of mail fraud totaling $2,651 against the Mountain Home (a section of Johnson City), Tenn. union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Denver-Area AFGE Local Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty

AFGE logoOn October 14, Aide Spade, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 709, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to one count of entering false statements in financial records of the Littleton union to conceal her thefts. The union represents employees of the Colorado state prison system. Spade had been indicted on four separate counts in June following an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Ramp Up Oil Industry Bargaining; Prepare for a Strike

oil workersWith gasoline prices falling by at least 40 percent since June, consumers are feeling fairly chipper lately. For a different reason, so is the United Steelworkers. The Pittsburgh-based union, with 860,000 active members, is preparing for oil industry contract talks next month in light. And one of the topics sure to come up is the rise of cost-saving drilling technologies and the desire by the USW to share in some of the profit. Members earlier this month voted on whether to ratify proposals developed at the USW National Oil Bargaining conference in late October, though no word has been available as to the outcome. Vice President Tom Conway notes: "The oil industry continues to earn billions of dollars in profits and can well afford these proposals."

Kansas City, Mo. AFSCME President Pleads Guilty to Fraud

AFSCME logoOn October 7, Jesse Morgan, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1707, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri to one count of wire fraud against the Kansas City, Mo. union. He had been indicted in February on 29 counts of fraud in connection with his embezzlement of at least $185,000 in union funds during his four years at the helm. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Bakery Workers Office Assistant in Denver Sentenced for Embezzlement

Bakery Workers logoOn October 9, Mary Grace Gossett, former office assistant for Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Local 24, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to five years of probation, and ordered to pay $41,622 in restitution and a $300 assessment, for embezzling funds from the Denver-based union. She had pleaded guilty in July after being charged in May. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

NLRB Ruling Gives Unions Advantage in E-Mail Organizing

emailThe National Labor Relations Board has changed in size and composition several times during the Obama administration, but one thing has remained constant: its pro-union majority. Labor officials lately are feeling pretty glad about that. On December 11, the NLRB ruled 3-2 that employees with access to an employer e-mail system can use that system for union organizing during "nonworking time." The ruling, Purple Communications Inc., overturns a 2007 NLRB decision, Register Guard, which held that a company has the discretion to ban non-business-related e-mail interactions among workers, including union-related ones. The board insists the impact of its newest ruling is "limited." Yet unions, especially the Communications Workers of America, see a clear victory along with an expansion of organizing opportunities. And they're probably right.

United Transportation Union Political Director in Nebraska Declines Plea Deal

United Transportation UnionRay Lineweber has decided to take his chances. On December 2, Lineweber, formerly political director of the United Transportation Union, Nebraska Legislative Board 30, told a federal judge in Lincoln that he would not take a deal offered by prosecutors. His statement was in response to his indictment last November for embezzling $102,907 in funds from the Omaha-based labor organization and then concealing the thefts through false-record keeping. This sets the stage for a trial in February. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

SE Virginia Letter Carriers President Charged with Embezzlement

NALC logoOn October 6, Jeffrey Jones, former president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 6066, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia with one count of embezzlement from the Chesapeake, Va. union in the amount of $7,649. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Southern California Public Employee Union Sues Ex-Official for Stealing $700K+

San Bernardino, California It would be an understatement to say that relations between the San Bernardino Public Employees Association (SBPEA) and its former general manager, Robert Blough, have been a lot better. On October 17, the independent union, which represents about 11,000 of 23,000 San Bernardino County, Calif. employees, filed a civil suit against Blough, alleging that he had stolen or misspent more than $700,000. The suit, filed in County Superior Court, seeks to recoup the missing money, plus associated costs. The action came two weeks after the union delivered the information to the district attorney, requesting an investigation and, if necessary, a criminal prosecution. Blough is hardly in a mood to settle. On November 20, he filed a response alleging the union was complicit in any and all illicit activity.

St. Louis Mail Handlers President Sentenced for Thefts

LIUNA logoOn December 10, Anthony Davis, former president of National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 314, a Laborers affiliate, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to one year and nine months in prison, and ordered to pay full restitution, for embezzling more than $40,000 in funds from the St. Louis-based union. He had been convicted by a jury in September after being indicted in April. Prosecutors had alleged that Davis, now 52, a resident of O'Fallon, Ill., had submitted fake invoices to the union and pocketed the reimbursements. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

East Texas Auto Workers Local President Pleads Guilty

Auto Workers logoOn September 30, Jerry Ragster, former president of United Auto Workers Local 3057, pleaded guilty in the 71st District Court of Harrison County, Texas to theft of $3,372 in funds from the Marshall, Tex.-based union. He made full restitution during his plea. Ragster had been indicted in November 2013 after an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. UAW Local 3057 represented employees of Dana Corp. at the auto parts supplier's Longview plant until its closure in 2012.

Security Union Treasurer in Washington, D.C. Sentenced for Fraud

Security guardOn September 30, Patricia Moore, former secretary-treasurer of the National Union of Protective Services Associations (NUPSA), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 150 days of home confinement and four years of supervised probation for conspiracy to commit wire fraud from NUPSA and a related Washington, D.C.-based union, the National Union of Law Enforcement Associations. She also was ordered to pay $107,346 in restitution and a $100 assessment. Moore had been charged on October 13, 2011 for defrauding the unions in the amount of $109,866.17; she pleaded guilty two weeks later. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Locomotive Engineers Secretary-Treasurer in Kansas Pleads Guilty

BLET logoOn September 29, Dale Hull, former secretary-treasurer for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 261, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to one count of embezzling union funds from the Herington, Kan.-based union. He had been indicted in July on five counts of embezzling more than $14,000. The guilty plea and indictment follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pennsylvania CWA Local Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced

Communications Workers logoOn September 22, Robert Vargeson, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 88329, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation for making false entries in financial records of the Gaines (formerly located in nearby Galeton), Pa. union to cover up theft in the amount of $6,373. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6,013. Vargeson had pleaded guilty on April 24 after being charged 10 days earlier. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

UAW Organizers Step up Use of 'Scab Lists'

UAWIntimidation is more than simply the use of physical force. It also is about the instilling of fear and shame in one's intended targets. Among labor leaders, one of the best tactics for getting the job done is the 'scab list.' The term refers to a longstanding union practice of compiling a list of employees at a given worksite who choose not to join a union or participate in a strike. The United Auto Workers in particular lately has been stepping up this practice as part of organizing drives in Right to Work states. Whether or not this tactic is legal, one thing is for certain: It amounts to bullying. By divulging the identities of workers who don't toe the union line, the scab list, like its close cousin, the card check, serves as a brake on a worker's right to say no. It is a reminder that "voluntary unionism" isn't quite voluntary in practice.

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