On 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.
On 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.
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 hearFriedrichs 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.
On 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.
On 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.
Labor leaders, especially corrupt ones, resent it when outsiders inquire into how member dues are spent. As in the U.S., this is an observable pattern in Canada. And as in the U.S., widespread discontent has led to tangible reform. On June 30, the Canadian Senate voted 35-22 to approve a bill, C-377, to mandate union financial accountability. The measure, supported though not sponsored by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, had traveled a long road since initial passage by the House of Commons more than three years ago. The new law will force unions to make available to the public detailed data. Unions and political supporters are denouncing the legislation as an attack on workers’ rights, and vow to overturn it in court. Yet the weight of public opinion stands in the way – and with good reason.
On June 24, Jacqueline Askew, former bookkeeper for International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Council 35, was charged in an information count in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts with embezzling $40,930 in funds from the Boston union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On May 26, Salvatore Mauro, former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 1236, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina to three years of probation, and ordered to pay $8,831 in restitution plus a $25 assessment, for creating a false financial report on behalf of the Salisbury-based local. He had pleaded guilty in January shortly after being charged that month. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On May 18, Shiryll Durham, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1687, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee to time served for taking and carrying, with the intent to steal, personal property from the Mountain Home (Johnson City) union. He also was ordered to pay $2,640 in restitution and a $25 fine. Durham had pleaded guilty in January after being charged in October 2014. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On June 19, John Earvin, former president of the United Federation of Law Enforcement Officers (UFLEO), pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to wire fraud in connection with his theft of nearly $50,000 from the Bellerose, Long Island, N.Y.-based union. He had been arrested and indicted in March following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Prosecutors had charged that Earvin had used his union ATM card to make hundreds of unauthorized cash withdrawals. UFLEO represents Special Inspectors for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.