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.

Pennsylvania Teachers Official Pleads Guilty to Thefts; Sentenced

NEA logoFor five years, Rae Dawn Grillo embezzled union funds.  She’s now going to spend the next five years under close supervision.  On August 27, Grillo, formerly treasurer of the Charleroi Area Education Association, pleaded guilty in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) to thefts from the union totaling $65,963.  She then was sentenced to nine months of electronic home monitoring, five years of probation and 200 hours of community service.  She also was ordered to repay residual restitution in the amount of $8,175.  Grillo had been charged in February following a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Ironworkers Bookkeeper in Illinois Charged with Records Fraud

Iron Workers logoOn August 25, Michelle Misso, former bookkeeper of Iron Workers Local 63, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois with one count of making a false entry in the financial records of the Broadview, Ill. (suburban Chicago) union.  The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

New Hampshire Power Plant Security Officers Official Charged

Seabrook nuclear power plantOn August 12, Gregory Paradis, former chief steward of United Federation of Special Police and Security Officers (UFSPSO) Local 501, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire in a one-count indictment with embezzling funds in an unspecified amount from the Seabrook, N.H. union, which represents workers at the nuclear power plant in that community.  UFSPSO, headquartered in Briarcliff Manor (Westchester County), N.Y., is distinct from another security employees union, the National Association of Special Police and Security Officers (NASPSO).  The indictment follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Virginia Police Officers Charged with Embezzling from Union

Police badgeCops normally enforce the law.  Randolph Brann and Jacob Wright, both cops, apparently broke it.  On September 2, Brann and Wright, veteran officers with the Norfolk, Virginia Police Department, were charged with four counts each of felony embezzlement from their union, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers.  They were placed on administrative leave and will remain there pending the results of an internal investigation.  No court dated yet has been set.

Secretary-Treasurer of Metro Phoenix Transit Union Sentenced

ATU logoIt took more than six years for Richard Wayne Johnson to be found out as an embezzler.  And it took more than three years for justice to prevail.  What matters in the end is that it did.  On September 14, Johnson, former secretary-treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1433, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona to 18 months in prison, plus three years of probation upon release, for stealing almost $275,000 from the Phoenix-based transit workers union.  He also was ordered to pay full restitution.  Johnson had pleaded guilty this June following an investigation by the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFGE Local President in Maine Charged with Records Fraud

AFGE logoOn August 7, Mark Durinski, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 294, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine with three counts of making false statements on financial reports of the Limestone, Maine-based local.  The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

American Allied Workers Local President in Illinois Charged

On August 6, Jimmy Bynum, president of American Allied Workers Local 944, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois with one count of embezzling funds of an unspecified sum from the Pembroke Township (Kankakee County), Ill.-based union.  The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

New Study Finds Right to Work Laws Don't Reduce Wages

Righ to Work posterWorkers might not like being forced to pay dues to a union, but they should be grateful anyway because they see more on their paychecks – so goes a common justification offered by union officials for such coercion.  Yet a new Heritage Foundation Issue Brief makes a convincing case that this view leaves out at least as much as it includes.  The author, Heritage fellow and labor issues analyst James Sherk, concludes that after fully taking into account the cost of living, private-sector wages in states with Right to Work laws (i.e., laws barring forced dues payments) are not significantly different from those in states without such laws.  Moreover, while Right to Work laws do slightly reduce public employee pay, they also save taxpayers money.  The study is at once a sequel and a rebuke to one published in April by the Left-leaning Economic Policy Institute.

Utility Workers President in Western Pennsylvania Sentenced

Utility Workers logoOn August 20, Michael Trembulak, former president of Utility Workers Union of America Local 475, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to five months of incarceration, to be followed by six months of home confinement and three years of supervised release, for embezzling funds from the Rochester (Beaver County), Pa.-based union.  He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31,528.  Trembulak had pleaded guilty in March after being indicted in July 2014.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Detroit CWA Vice President Charged with Embezzlement

Communications Workers logoOn August 18, Karen McJimpson, former executive vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 4004, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with embezzling about $19,000 in funds from the Detroit union.  The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Corrupt Coli Family, Chicago Teamsters under Fresh Scrutiny

The good old days of union nepotism never really went away – not in Chicago anyway. According to published sources, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 727, long a virtual candy store for boss John Coli Sr. (in photo) and extended family, has been providing lavish compensation for a law firm whose managing partner is one of Coli's sons.  The firm has been busy as of late.  In July, a Cook County judge ruled that the elder Coli and Teamsters Local 700, of which he is a trustee, were jointly liable for $2.3 million for breaking a building lease.  That's not even taking into account a now-dismissed RICO suit charging the Colis and Local 727 with stiffing a funeral employee pension plan out of contributions.  If the family needs allies, it knows where to look, especially Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Ex-Teamster President in Louisville Pleads Guilty to Thefts

Teamsters logoJerry Thomas Vincent Jr. hasn’t run his union for four years.  But the experience continues to catch up with him.  On August 17, Vincent, formerly president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 783, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky to one count of embezzling $17,272.84 in funds during 2009-11 from the Louisville-based union and 13 counts of falsifying records to cover up the thefts.  Vincent had been indicted in July 2014 for committing thefts totaling this amount and for receiving $23,760 in unauthorized loans.  He is scheduled for sentencing in December.  The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

President of Postal Workers Supervisors Local in Alaska Charged

U.S. Post Office On August 19, Kenneth Vanderwyst, former vice president and then president of the Fairbanks chapter of the National Association of Postal Supervisors, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska with embezzling $9,541 from a union account from late 2012 through April 7, 2015.  He also was charged with fraud in the amount of $5,535.55 over a one-year period via use of gift cards and an access device.  The charges follow a Labor Department investigation and a grand jury indictment.

Buffalo Public Employees Officials Plead Guilty to Thefts

School busBetty Martin and Duane Rush saw their union as an open cash register.  Now their case is closed.  On June 5, Martin and Rush, respectively, the former president and vice president of the Transportation Aides of Buffalo, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York to bank fraud.  The pair had stolen a combined more than $120,000 in funds from the Buffalo-based labor organization, which represents school bus aides employed by the City of Buffalo.  The actions follow a joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.

Machinists Local Secretary-Treasurer in Illinois Charged

Machinists logoOn July 9, Raul Mascote, former secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 2458, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois with one count of embezzling $62,263 in funds from the Minooka, Ill. (near Joliet) union.  The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Michigan Postal Workers President Charged with Embezzlement

Postal Workers logoOn August 12, Jesus Gonzales, president of American Postal Workers Union Local 300, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan with one count of embezzlement of $6,720 in funds from the Lansing-based union and one count of falsifying union records.  The charges follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General.

Plumbers Local Secretary in Ohio Indicted for Theft, Records Fraud

Plumbers logoHeather Banhidy isn't likely to pursue a career with her union any further.  On August 12, Banhidy, former office secretary for United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 120, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on one count of embezzlement of $13,906 in funds from the Cleveland-based union and one count of falsifying union records.  The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Ohio Carpenters Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Carpenters logoOn August 11, Estella Collier, former office secretary for United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 200, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to embezzling $12,933 from the Columbus-based union by writing unauthorized checks for making personal purchases.  She had been charged in an information count on July 28 following a joint probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

NLRB Rules in Favor of Teamsters in 'Joint Employer' Case

The National Labor Relations Board has provided unions with a variety of favorable rulings during the Obama years, but perhaps none as dramatic as one last Thursday.  On August 27, the NLRB, in a 3-2 vote, concluded that Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) of California Inc. qualifies as a “joint employer” alongside another firm, Leadpoint Business Services, with which it had contracted to handle labor operations at a Bay Area recycling plant.  As such, both companies must negotiate with a Teamsters affiliate should the results of a representation vote last spring reveal a union victory.  The ruling could force many large employers to the bargaining table over labor issues which they have little or no direct control, while sharply raising business costs for contractors, franchisees and temp agencies.  And it isn’t just the Teamsters who are rejoicing.

BLET Secretary in West Virginia Sentenced for Embezzlement

BLET logoOn August 10, Nathan McCallister, former secretary-treasurer of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 101, was sentenced in the Circuit Court of Summers County, West Virginia to two years of probation for embezzling funds from the Hinton, W.Va. union.  He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,409.  McCallister had pleaded guilty in June after being charged in March.  The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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