The union representing security employees of Amtrak, the nation's federally-chartered rail passenger corporation, was missing funds. It didn't have far to look for the source of the problem. On June 24, Eric Givens, a longtime Amtrak police officer, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with one count each of wire fraud, embezzlement and making a false statement related to his alleged theft of at least $100,000 in funds from the Amtrak Police Labor Committee, and a Fraternal Order of Police affiliate, each of which he had served as treasurer. He had been arrested earlier that day. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the Amtrak Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs.
On June 26, Harold Ray, former secretary of National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 469 and the NALC Alabama State Association, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama to two months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling funds from the two labor organizations, located, respectively, in Mobile and Birmingham. He also was ordered to pay combined restitution in the amount of $31,954 plus a $100 special assessment. Ray had been indicted in January for embezzling $38,565; he pled guilty in March. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 13, David Lynch, former president and treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 383, was indicted in the McCracken County, Kentucky Circuit Court for theft of more than $10,000 in funds from the Paducah-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On May 14, Timothy Gamble, former president of United Steelworkers Local 378, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina with embezzling $9,345 in funds from the Aynor (near Myrtle Beach) union during May 2010-May 2013. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 12, Dianna Woodall was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to three years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service for participating in a scheme to cash a $9,836 counterfeit check drawn on a bank account of Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) District 1, based in Washington, D.C. She also was ordered to pay full restitution. Woodall had pleaded guilty in March after being charged earlier than month. Another individual, Kenneth Marshall Jr., also had pleaded guilty in March to cashing two counterfeit checks totaling $18,851 drawn on that MEBA account. A union spokesman informed NLPC at the time that neither was a union member. The sentencing of Woodall follows a joint probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
On June 3, Aide Spade, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 709, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on four counts of concealing union disbursements to her. The Littleton-based union represents employees of the Colorado state prison system. The indictment comes six years after an audit by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards (see pdf) showed a lack of documentation by Spade of credit card and other supposedly union-related expenses.
As a retired cop, J.C. Stamps was about the last person one would suspect of stealing funds. But he indeed had stolen - and from more than one organization. On June 23, Stamps, a retired detective from the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the founder of two separate unions and a security firm, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to embezzling nearly $200,000 over a roughly four-year period from the unions. He had been charged on June 9. The charge and guilty plea 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.
On July 1, Jerry Thomas Vincent Jr., president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 783, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky on multiple counts of embezzlement, fraud and false record-keeping that enabled him to obtain more than $40,000 in purchases and loans from the Louisville union. Prosecutors allege Vincent, 53, a resident of Louisville, during October 5, 2009-June 17, 2011 embezzled $17,272.84 in funds through unauthorized credit card charges and $23,760 in illegal loans. They also accuse him of concealing these transactions in union financial records. An arraignment is scheduled for July 22. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Public-sector unions largely owe their growth to their authority to force non-joining workers to put money in their coffers. The Supreme Court believes this authority needs some restraint. By a 5-4 margin, the Court ruled on Monday, June 30, in Harris v. Quinn that nonunion private-sector home health workers cannot be required to support a public employee union even if their wages come from state Medicaid funds. The class-action suit originated in 2010 when several home care workers sued the State of Illinois and two unions, challenging two executive orders issued, respectively, in 2003 and 2009 classifying thousands of these service providers as state employees. The orders, wrote Justice Samuel Alito, violated worker freedom of speech. At the same time, the ruling did not overturn the 1977 decision that justified the public-sector union shop and applied it to non-members.
The National Labor Relations Board has been a model of instability these last half-dozen years. And the drama, though temporarily resolved last July, won't likely end soon. Last Thursday, June 26, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Noel Canning v. NLRB that President Obama exceeded his authority in making three "recess appointments" to the NLRB on January 4, 2012 during a Senate break which, in the eyes of the Court, did not qualify as a recess. "The Senate is in session when it says it is," wrote Justice Stephen Breyer. Yet the ruling was not a full defeat for Obama. By 5-4, the four liberals on the Court, joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy (in photo), also ruled against the near-elimination of presidential recess authority and thus undercut a circuit court ruling in January 2013.