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.

Louisiana Federal Employees President, Secretary Plead Guilty; Sentenced

NFFE logoJustice in labor corruption cases can work very speedily.  Maxine Davis and Shirley Johns found out the hard way.  On July 27, Davis, former president of National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) Local 1953, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to making false statements in union financial records immediately after being charged.  Three days later, on July 30, she was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.  She already had paid $4,875 in restitution.  Davis was in good company.  On July 14, Shirley Johns, former secretary-treasurer of NFFE Local 1953, was charged in the same court with making false statements.  On July 17, she pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.  Johns already had paid $7,190 in restitution.

NLRB Blasted for Lax Enforcement of Beck Rights

By now it is settled judicial opinion:  A private-sector union can’t force nonunion employees under contract to pay dues for purposes beyond those related to collective bargaining.  The Supreme Court cogently expressed this view in its landmark 1988 ruling, Communications Workers of America v. Beck.  Yet it is almost as if the decision never happened.  A new law journal article by prominent Right to Work attorney Raymond LaJeunesse, Jr. explains why.  He points a finger not only at the unions, who at least act out of recognizable self-interest, but more importantly, at the ostensibly nonpartisan National Labor Relations Board.  The NLRB, he argues, using a variety of tactics, over the years has acted more as a de facto advocate for unionism than as a guardian of the public trust.  And the situation has gotten worse under President Obama.

Laborers Bookkeeper in Southern Illinois Pleads Guilty to Theft

LIUNA logoThere wasn’t much question about whether Carolyn Hall had taken union funds.  At least it could be said that she was able and willing to return them.  On August 7, Hall, formerly bookkeeper for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1197, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to one count of embezzling $26,491 in funds from the McLeansboro (Hamilton County), Ill.-based union.  She had been charged this past April following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  Court records show that she already has made full restitution.

NLRB Denies Union Standing for Northwestern Football Players

Some would call it punting.  Others would call it common sense.  Both summations might apply.  On Monday, August 17, the National Labor Relations Board unanimously ruled that scholarship football players at Northwestern University cannot form a union.  In overturning a March 2014 regional NLRB decision, the board concluded that allowing union organizing at one campus, but not at others, would be disruptive.  The ruling read:  “Our decision is primarily premised on a finding that because of the nature of sports leagues…it would not promote stability in labor relations to assert jurisdiction in this case.”  While the decision is a rebuke to the players’ request, its scope is narrow.  By declining to rule on whether student-athletes qualify as “employees,” the board has kept the door open for similar cases.    

Memphis Bakery & Tobacco Workers President Sentenced

Bakery & Tobacco Workers logoOn June 25, William Magee, former president of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Local 252G, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee to three years of probation, with six months home detention, for embezzling funds from the Memphis union.  He also was ordered to pay $71,908 in restitution and a $100 assessment.  Magee had pleaded guilty in February following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Transportation Union Secretary in Washington State Sentenced

United Transportation Union logo On July 1, Alfonso Rodriguez, former secretary-treasurer for United Transportation Union Local 117, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington to three years of probation and 160 hours of community service for false financial reporting.  He also was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $34,601 to the Southworth (Kitsap County), Wash.-based union.  Rodriguez had pleaded guilty in March following an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Three NYC Union Bosses Charged in 1M+ Kickback and Embezzlement Scheme

New York City skylineBenefit plans arguably have become the most lucrative source of illegal income in the world of organized labor.  Federal prosecutors in Manhattan don’t need to be reminded of that.  On July 1, New York City union officials Rocco Miranti, Johnnie Miranti and Louis Smith were arrested and indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for their roles in obtaining more than $1 million through kickbacks and theft from allied health plans.  The three defendants, respectively, are business manager of Allied Novelty and Production Workers Local 223, secretary-treasurer of Local 223, and ex-president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 810.  The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division.

Indiana AFGE Local President Sentenced for Theft

AFGE logoOn July 7, Curtis Bullick, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3254, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana to one year of probation for theft of property from the Bunker Hill, Ind.-based union.  He also was ordered to pay $2,107 in restitution and a $25 special assessment.  Bullick had pleaded guilty in March.  The guilty plea and sentencing follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

CWA Secretary-Treasurer in Indiana Charged with Forgery, Theft

Communications Workers logoOn July 23, Diana Brown, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 84807, was charged in Clark County, Indiana Circuit Court with 10 counts of felony forgery and one count of felony theft from the Jeffersonville, Ind. (near Louisville, Ky.) union.  The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Michigan Carpenters Council Comptroller Charged with $500K Theft

Carpenters logoGlenn Robert Smith dodged a bullet nearly two years ago in a civil lawsuit filed by his union.  He might not be so fortunate this time around now that he’s facing federal criminal charges.  On July 1, Smith, former comptroller for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (MRCC), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with an information count for embezzling $499,087 from the Detroit-area labor organization.  The charge follows a joint investigation by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General. 

AFSCME Home Care Workers President in New York Sentenced

AFSCME logoOn June 26, Juanita Phillips, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 389, was sentenced in the Supreme Court of New York State to one year in prison for stealing funds in an unspecified amount from the New York City-based home care workers union.  She had pleaded guilty last September.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Boston Ex-Teamster Pleads Guilty to Unemployment Fraud

Teamsters logoThomas Flaherty can’t seem to stay away from trouble – or federal court.  On June 29, Flaherty, a former employee and member of the Boston-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 82, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to three counts of mail fraud in connection with state unemployment benefits that he had received while working full-time.  The plea follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration, plus the Boston Police Department.

Cincinnati Iron Workers Office Manager Pleads Guilty

Iron Workers logoOn July 15, Julie Skaggs, former office manager for International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 372, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to one count of embezzlement of $51,491 in funds from the Cincinnati-based union.  She had been charged in March 2014.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Southwest Ohio CWA Financial Secretary Sentenced for Theft

On July 1, Thomas Wolfer, former financial secretary of Communications Workers of America Local 84729, was sentenced in the State of Ohio, Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, to three years of community service, and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution plus court costs, for theft from the Fayetteville, Ohio union.  Wolfer had pleaded guilty in March to one count of felony theft.  The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

UGSOA Local President in Pennsylvania Charged; Pleads Guilty

UGSOA logoHoward Royal spent only 11 months ripping off his union.  That was plenty of time to do well for himself.  On July 17, Royal, former president of United Government Security Officers of America Local 304, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to one count of wire fraud in connection with his thefts totaling $66,989.02 from the Harrisburg union.  He had been charged nine days earlier, with the Justice Department filing a tentative plea agreement along with the information count.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. 

IATSE Treasurer for Wisconsin District Council Sentenced

IATSE logoOn July 6, Ira Alper, former treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees District 9, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to four months of imprisonment to be followed by two years of supervised release, including six months of home detention, for theft of funds from the Madison, Wisc.-based labor organization.  The offenses occurred in Illinois.  He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $41,568 plus a $100 special assessment.  Alper had pleaded guilty back in October 2013 to embezzling $76,768 in funds.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Painters Bookkeeper in Boston Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Painters logoOn July 22, Jacqueline Askew, former bookkeeper for International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Council 35, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to one count of embezzlement of $40,930 in funds from the Roslindale (Boston)-based union.  She had been charged in June following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Challenge to Forced Public Employee Unionism

When it comes to coercion, government employee unions are masters of the game.  But now they must contend with masters of the courtroom.  On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), a case previously dismissed by district and appeals courts.  Several school teachers across California, led by an Orange County teacher, Rebecca Friedrichs (in photo), assert that the CTA has no authority to levy political fees on non-members without prior consent.  In light of its 2012 Knox decision, and the political character of many “non-political” bargaining issues, the Court may overturn its 1977 Abood ruling authorizing the public-sector union shop.  The CTA and allies counter, less than convincingly, that the plaintiffs are “free riders” mooching off dues-paying members. 

Ex-President of Operating Engineers Local in Michigan Charged

IUOE logoOn June 19, Steven Minella, former president and business agent of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with failing to report to appropriate authorities the commission of extortion by another official of the Bloomfield Hills, Mich. local.  The charge follows a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Letter Carriers Secretary-Treasurer in North Carolina Sentenced

Letter Carriers logoOn June 16, Russell Cameron Hill, former financial secretary-treasurer for National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 780, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to two years in prison, with home detention of up to 180 consecutive days, for embezzling funds of an unspecified amount from the New Bern, N.C.-based union.  He also was ordered to pay a $1,200 fine and a $100 assessment.  Hill had pled guilty in March.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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