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.

Boilermakers Training Fund Manager Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Boilermaker at workEmployees at International Brotherhood of Boilermakers headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas are lavishly compensated even by the standards of free-spending unions. Yet one of those employees, Angela Heninger, couldn't resist the compulsion to steal. On August 22, Heninger, sales and marketing director/office manager for a Boilermakers benefit fund called Mobilization, Optimization, Stabilization and Training Trust, or MOST, pleaded guilty in Kansas City, Kan. federal court to a superseding information count of embezzlement. She originally had been charged in April with one count of embezzlement, six counts of wire fraud, and five counts of bank fraud totaling about $50,000. Her true take was likely much higher.

Ambulance/Paramedics Local President in Ohio Indicted

On August 14, Christopher Wheeler, former president of International Association of EMTs and Paramedics Local 43, was indicted on two counts of theft totaling $3,769 in Medina County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court. The charges follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Teachers Union Secretary-Treasurer in Montana Charged with Embezzlement

Teachers deskSandy Hawkes had a problem with her bills. She may have created a far bigger problem by stealing from her union to pay them. On July 5, Hawkes, secretary-treasurer for the Somers Classified Education Association, was charged in Flathead County, Montana District Court with embezzling about $9,000 in union funds. She already had resigned from her regular job as a secretary at Lakeside Elementary School a month earlier. The charge follows an investigation by the sheriff's office of fast-growing Flathead County, located in northwest Montana just south of the Canadian border. Hawkes pleaded not guilty on August 1. Given the evidence, one has to wonder why.

Detroit Teachers Union Business Manager Charged with Fraud

American Federation of Teachers logoThose questioning the State of Michigan's decision in March 2012 to take control of 15 Detroit city schools should consider the people working for the union representing its teachers - people, at least, like Sherri Patrick. On August 7, Ms. Patrick, formerly business manager of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with defrauding the union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, over a four-year period. The charge follows, belatedly, a complaint filed by the union with the Detroit Police Department. 

U.S. Circuit Court Upholds Michigan Ban on Project Labor Agreements

Opposition to PLA adFor some two decades, Project Labor Agreements, or PLAs, have enabled unions in various states to dictate hiring for large-scale, taxpayer-funded construction projects. In Michigan, at least, this labor monopoly has been thwarted. On September 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a Michigan law, Public Act 238, enacted last year to bar the use of government-mandated PLAs. The legislation was a response to a lower court ruling in favor of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, an AFL-CIO affiliate. The latest ruling marks a second major victory this year for the open shop; New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie in April vetoed a bill that would have mandated PLAs for coastal-area reconstruction in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Longshoremen Treasurer in South Carolina Indicted for Embezzlement

Longshoremen at workDerrick Alexander apparently thought his union was a personal bank account. Now he's finding out the difference the hard way. On September 11, Alexander, formerly secretary-treasurer of International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) Local 1422-A, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina with embezzling nearly $55,000 from the Charleston union and concealing the thefts after the fact. A grand jury had concluded that Alexander made a "false statement and representation of material fact knowing it to be false." The four-count indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Dallas-Area Postal Workers President Sentenced for Theft

Postal Workers logoOn August 12, Frank Juarez, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 6768, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to three years of probation, of which 180 days must be served in home detention, for embezzling funds from the Plano union. He also was ordered to pay $21,151 in restitution and a $100 assessment. Juarez had been charged in February. No information is available as to a guilty plea. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

UFCW President in Louisiana Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

UFCW logoCalvin Sanders was more than just careless. And that's why he faces a potential five-year prison sentence. Sanders, who had served as president of Local 638C of the United Food and Commercial Workers during June 2007-February 2010, was charged on August 8 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana with embezzling $24,028 in funds from the Lafayette, La.-based union. He then pleaded guilty. According to federal prosecutors, Sanders, 52, a resident of Franklin, La., made unauthorized withdrawals from Local 638C general and strike fund checking accounts, and also paid personal utility bills with union funds.

Florida AFGE Local President Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

AFGE logoOn August 8, Danny Hubbard, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1380, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to 24 counts of wire fraud against the Panama City, Fla. union. He had been charged last November. The actions follow a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Unions Appeal Ruling Upholding Michigan Public Employee Right to Work Law

Union protestors in MichiganFew things mobilize unions more than the prospect of passage of a Right to Work law in a given state. This reality of labor politics also applies to the aftermath. Just hours ago, a group of unions filed an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court to overturn an August 15 ruling by a state Court of Appeals that public-sector Right to Work legislation, passed in December, applies to state civil service employees. That decision, for the time being, freed roughly 36,000 Michigan state government workers from worrying about losing their jobs because they refuse to pay financial tribute to a union.

Steelworkers Financial Secretary in Kentucky Pleads Guilty

Steelworkers logoOn August 6, Mark Gilbert, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 805, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to embezzling $8,467.10 in funds from the Florence, Ky.-based union. He had been indicted in June. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

AFGE Local President in Chicago Sentenced for Theft

AFGE logoOn August 6, Christopher Stansbury, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1765, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to two years of probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $18,662 for thefts from the Chicago-based union. He had pleaded guilty in January to one count of embezzlement of nearly $500 after being charged in December. AFGE Local 1763 represents regional office employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The actions follow a joint investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Veterans Affairs Department's Office of Inspector General.

West Virginia AFGE Local Officers Indicted for Records Fraud

AFGE logoOn August 6, Janet Posey and Linda Bland, respectively, president and vice president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2384, each were indicted in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia on one count of concealment of embezzled funds. The union represents employees of the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, W.Va. The charges follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

IATSE Treasurer in Wisconsin Charged with Embezzlement

IATSE logoOn August 5, Ira Alper, former treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees District 9, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for embezzling union funds in the amount of $76,768. The charge was filed in Illinois, though IATSE District 9 is based in Madison, Wisconsin. The charge follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

SEIU Front Steps Up Campaign for $15/Hr. Fast Food Minimum Wage

Fast food strikersEmployees in the fast food industry, before anything else, know that they aren't going to make lots of money. Employers in this part of the restaurant world are in business to provide convenience at low prices rather than creativity or elegance. The wages they offer are a reflection of this. Yet the Service Employees International Union and an allied New York-based nonprofit coalition, Fast Food Forward, are bent on boosting these workers' wages in dramatic fashion. Last Thursday, August 29, the day after the 50th anniversary rally of the 1963 March on Washington, these activists led walkouts and demonstrations in dozens of cities in hopes of winning a $15 an hour minimum wage and union recognition for fast food employees.

Former President of San Diego-Area NTEU Local Sentenced

NTEU logoOn August 5, Harold Washington, former president of National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 105, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $100 fine for embezzling more than $38,000 from the Chula Vista union and falsifying financial reports to conceal the thefts. He had been charged on April 24, later pleading guilty that day. Washington previously had paid full restitution. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Professional Responsibility and Customs and Border Protection.

AFGE Ex-Local President in Wisconsin Charged with Theft

AFGE logoOn July 31, Christopher Zawikowski, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3495, was charged in Adams County, Wisconsin District Court with one count of theft from the Grand Marsh, Wisc.-based union in an amount of less than $2,500. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

West Virginia Plumbers Business Manager Sentenced for Records Fraud

Plumbers logoOn July 16, Jeffrey Beresford, former business manager and financial secretary of United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 83, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to one year of probation and ordered to pay $4,507 in restitution and a $25 special assessment for falsifying records of the Wheeling-based local in connection with theft. Two days later, he paid full restitution. Beresford had pled guilty in April. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

National Political Director for Steelworkers Sentenced for Thefts

Steelworkers logoOn July 30, Charles Rocha, former national political director for the United Steelworkers, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 for embezzling funds from union headquarters in Pittsburgh. He previously had made restitution in the amount of $12,449. Rocha had been indicted last September and pleaded guilty this past March. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Former Chicago-Area AFGE Official Sentenced for Mail Fraud

AFGE logoOn July 29, Jacquelyn Pugh-Rodgers, former vice president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2107, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to three years probation, six months of which would be in community confinement, for mail fraud. She also was ordered to pay $35,663 in restitution and a special assessment of $100. AFGE Local 2107 is based in North Chicago, Ill. (Lake County) and represents employees of the North Chicago VA Medical Center. Pugh-Rodgers had pleaded guilty in March after being indicted with two other local members, James Charleston and Mary Craigen, in July 2012 on two counts of mail fraud and one count of embezzlement. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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