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.

UFCW Goes to Pot; Northern California Organizer Indicted

Marijuana dispensaryMarijuana has become a labor issue as well as a legal and commercial one.  In one union, that means corruption.  On September 17, Daniel Rush, an organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers, was indicted in Oakland, Calif. by a federal grand jury for bribe-taking, attempted extortion, honest services fraud, and money-laundering related to his receipt of over $500,000 in cash and other things of value from marijuana dispensary employers in return for his advice to the employers on how to avoid being unionized.  Arrested on August 11 after a lengthy FBI probe, Rush pleaded not guilty on September 23.  A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California told NLPC today that a status conference is set for December 14.

Cincinnati UFCW Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

United Food and Commercial Workers logoOn October 27, Chad Petras, former secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342C, pleaded guilty in the Hamilton County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas to one count of attempted theft of funds from the union.  He then was sentenced to 180 days in jail (suspended) and one year of probation, and was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution and a $150 fine.  Petras had been indicted on one count in January 2013.  The union, at the time of the offense was based in Rising Sun, Ind., but since has moved to Cincinnati.  The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Iron Workers Office Manager in Cincinnati Sentenced

Iron Workers logoOn October 27, Julie Skaggs, former office manager of International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Local 372, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to six months of home detention and five years of probation for embezzlement of $51,491 in funds from the Cincinnati union.  She also was ordered to pay $67,874 in restitution and a $100 special assessment.  Skaggs pleaded guilty in July after being charged in March 2014.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Secretary-Treasurer of Transportation Union in Mississippi Indicted

SMART (United Transportation Union)On October 20, James Adams, former secretary treasurer of Transportation Division Local 427 of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation, or SMART (formerly United Transportation Union), was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on one count of embezzling $45,043 in funds from the Byram, Miss.-based union and one count of making false statements in union financial records.  The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Transportation Union Treasurer in Nebraska Sentenced for Embezzlement

United Transportation Union logoOn October 19, Richard Molczyk, former treasurer of United Transportation Union Local 493, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska to five years of probation and ordered to pay $13,196 in restitution and a $100 special assessment for embezzling funds from the Omaha union.  He had pleaded guilty in April after being indicted in August 2014.  United Transportation Union is now formally Transportation Division of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART), the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers having merged several years ago.  Local 493 is now based in Fort Dodge, Iowa.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Electrical Workers President in Upstate New York Indicted

IBEW logoOn October 19, Brian Scott, former president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 503, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on one count of embezzlement of an unspecified sum and one count of false reporting.  The union is based in Monroe (Orange County), N.Y.  The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Will Unions Force Employers to Recognize Card Checks?

“Card Check:  The Sequel” has arrived.  No, it’s not a movie.  It’s a congressional bill.  And labor unions are counting on a happy ending this time.  On October 6, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., unveiled the Workplace Democracy Act (S.2142, H.R. 3690).  The measure would force nonunion private-sector employers to recognize a union as a bargaining agent if it obtains signed pledge cards from over half of all potentially affected workers.  This organizing tactic, known as a “card check,” is legal.  And unions often use it as a prelude to, or a substitute for, a secret ballot representation election.  The bill’s name is misleading.  It’s no more about democracy than its almost identical forerunner, the Employee Free Choice Act, was about freedom of choice.  And its economic effects are not likely to be salutary. 

AFGE Local President in Upstate New York Indicted for Fraud

AFGE logoA debit card can be highly convenient, especially if the name on the card refers to a deceased individual.  William Davis has found out such a practice carries a downside.  On October 23, federal prosecutors announced the indictment of Davis, ex-president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1119, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on one count of wire fraud and two counts of making false financial statements in the theft of more than $120,000 in union funds.  The union represents about 300 employees at the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System’s FDR campus in Montrose, N.Y. (Westchester County).  The charges follow a joint probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General.

Former President of Alabama AFGE Local Sentenced for Thefts

AFGE logoFor Stephanie Hicks, the bill for more than a half-decade of thefts has come due.  Last Tuesday, November 17, Hicks, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2207, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to six months in federal prison, plus six months of home detention, for embezzling more than $92,000 from the union, which represents employees at the Birmingham VA Hospital.  Hicks had pleaded guilty to bank fraud and forgery in June after being indicted for embezzling over $132,000.  The actions follow a joint investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor.    

Court Reinstates Conviction of New Jersey Electrical Workers Business Agent

IBEW logoFor a while, Richard “Buzzy” Dressel wasn't certain whether he would be headed for prison.  He's more certain now.  On August 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reinstated the jury guilty verdict of Dressel, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 164, on charges of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Paramus, N.J.-based union and its job training fund.  In reversing U.S. District Judge William Martini’s decision of April 2014 that had tossed out two embezzlement convictions, the appellate court stated:  “The jury’s verdict was not irrational, as there was sufficient evidence to convict Dressel of embezzling union funds.”  Dressel allegedly had used the money to provide his girlfriend (and now wife) with a no-show union job and to bankroll her catering business with a no-bid contract.   

Plumbers Ex-Business Manager in West Virginia Charged with Benefits Theft

Plumbers logoOn October 6, Jeffrey Beresford, former business manager and financial secretary of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 83, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia with two counts of embezzling funds from the joint apprenticeship program of the Wheeling union.  Beresford, 55, a resident of Cameron, W.Va., allegedly used position as a program trustee to write unauthorized checks from its bank account.  The alleged offense is separate from a financial records fraud charge in 2013 to which Beresford pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay $4,507 in restitution.  The new charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.

Security Officers Treasurer in Colorado Pleads Guilty

UGSOAOn October 14, Christopher Headlee, former treasurer of United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) Local 50, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to one count of falsifying records of the Colorado Springs-based union.  The plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pennsylvania Local IBEW President Indicted for Embezzlement

IBEW logoOn October 13, Robin Pirrello, former president of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1637, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on one count of embezzling $22,184 in funds from the Erie-based union.  Prosecutors allege that Ms. Pirrello during October 2010-August 2011 wrote and cashed union checks to herself; obtained unauthorized salary advances after she had left office; obtained unauthorized per diem travel reimbursements; and made unauthorized payments to a business entity.  The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Bookkeeper for Chicago-Area Ironworkers Local Pleads Guilty

Iron Workers logoOn October 8, Michelle Misso, former bookkeeper for Iron Workers Local 63, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count of making false entries in the records of the Broadview (suburban Chicago), Ill.-based union to conceal her acts of embezzlement totaling $47,161.  She had been charged in August.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Plumbers Secretary in Cleveland Pleads Guilty to Theft

Plumbers logoOn October 26, Heather Banhidy, former office secretary for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 120, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to one count of embezzlement $13,906 in funds from the Cleveland union.  She had been indicted on August 12 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Pennsylvania Amends Anti-Stalking Law; Removes 'Labor Dispute' Exemption

Iron Workers logoStalking is ugly behavior.  By intent, it inflicts fear of violence upon another person or persons.  And frequently it is a prelude to actual violence.  Yet in a number of states, such behavior is protected under law if it can be justified as promoting one's interests in a labor dispute.  Pennsylvania, to its credit, is no longer on that list.  Last Thursday, November 5, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill into law repealing a loophole that had given unions the right to stalk, harass and even use a “weapon of mass destruction” as an organizing tool.  The new law, in the works for more than two years, applies to employers and unions alike.  Yet on a practical level, its main intent is to discourage union terror at nonunion worksites.  Predictably, the Pennsylvania chapter of the AFL-CIO opposes the measure.

Kentucky Steelworkers Local Employee Indicted for Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn October 8, Dawn Colley, former employee of United Steelworkers Local 8-719, was charged in a three-count indictment in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky for embezzling $7,201 in funds from the Ashland, Ky. union.  The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Steelworkers Local Treasurer in Pennsylvania Sentenced for Theft

Steelworkers logoOn October 7, David Deitrick, former financial secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 10-1338, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation, and ordered to pay $8,993 in restitution and a $100 special assessment, for embezzling funds from the Shamokin (Northumberland County), Pa.-based union.  Deitrick had pleaded guilty in April following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Boston Teamster Sentenced for Unemployment Fraud

Teamsters logoOn September 24, Thomas Flaherty, a former member of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 82 (taken over in 2011 by Teamsters Local 25), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to two years of probation for fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits from the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development.  He also was ordered to pay $21,011 in restitution and a $1,000 fine.  He had pleaded guilty in June.  Flaherty previously had been accused, along with three other Local 82 members, of running an intimidation racket against participants at Boston trade shows.  He was acquitted in that case, but couldn’t walk in this one.  The plea and sentencing follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department and the Boston Police Department.

West Virginia Steelworkers President Charged with Embezzlement

Steelworkers logoOn October 6, James Coffey Jr., former president of United Steelworkers Local 5-887, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia on two counts of embezzling $7,098 in funds from the Newell, W.Va.-based union.  Coffey, 54, a resident of Bergholz, Ohio, allegedly used a union debit card to pay for personal expenses and wrote unauthorized checks to himself from a union bank account.  The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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