On March 30, Assane Faye, founder and president of the United Security & Police Officers Association (USPOA), was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on two counts of embezzlement of union funds and seven counts of unemployment fraud. Prosecutors say that Mr. Faye, an ethnic Senegalese, since 2010 stole more than $300,000 from the Washington, D.C.-based union. The indictment follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Office of Inspector General.
When it comes to living large, no union is quite the match for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. And the IBB appears to be setting an example for its local affiliates. Late last month, KDKA, the CBS television affiliate for the Pittsburgh area, confirmed that the FBI has launched an investigation of the Pittsburgh-based Boilermakers Local 154. The union, which represents more than 2,000 welders, pipefitters and other construction workers, may have diverted as much as $1 million in member dues for unauthorized expenditures during the three most recent fiscal years. The probe is based on financial reports submitted to the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Carolyn Hall took around a year and a half to have the law of averages catch up. On or about April 24, Hall, former bookkeeper for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1197, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois with embezzling $26,491 in cash receipts from the union, which represents construction and other workers in southern counties of the state. Prosecutors allege Hall, 53, a resident of McLeansboro, Ill., during July 2012-February 2014 stole cash receipts from member dues and used the funds to cover personal expenses. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
In the construction industry, nothing exemplifies union monopoly, and its costs, quite like a Project Labor Agreement. A new proposal before Congress, the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, would protect contractors from intrusion by organized labor upon contractual liberty. Sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La. (H.R. 1671, S. 71), the measure would bar the use of these agreements on federally-sponsored or subsidized public works. In promoting open competition in bidding, hiring and other aspects of project labor, it effectively would overturn President Obama’s Executive Order 13502. Issued in February 2009, that order “encouraged” federal agencies to require such pacts on a case-by-case basis on projects of $25 million or more.
For decades, federal employees have used working hours to conduct union business, effectively forcing taxpayers to cover the costs of activity unrelated to job responsibilities. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., thinks this practice, known as ‘official time,’ is due for an overhaul. On March 26, Hice unveiled the Federal Employee Accountability Act (H.R. 1658). The bill, which has gathered more than 15 House co-sponsors, would bar unionized federal workers from engaging in bargaining or arbitration while on agency time. “After examining the practices of over 60 government agencies,” said Hice, “my office has found an astounding amount of government waste. By eliminating the ‘official time’ practice, we will return over $1 billion to hardworking American taxpayers, and shed this shady, wasteful practice that only benefits unions.”
On March 20, Alfonso Rodriguez, former financial secretary of United Transportation Union Local 117, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Washington to one count of false reporting in connection with his theft of funds from the Southworth (Kitsap County), Washington-based union. He also agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $34,601. Sentencing is set for June. The plea follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
It’s a familiar story: A union official with a gambling problem steals from the till to cover personal losses. On March 31, John Earvin, former president of the United Federation of Law Enforcement Officers (UFLEO), was arrested by federal agents for embezzling nearly $50,000 over more than three years from the Bellerose (Nassau County, Long Island), N.Y.-based union, which represents Special Inspectors at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He had been indicted on one count of wire fraud the previous day in Manhattan federal court following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On March 26, Michael Low, former secretary-treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America Local 2097, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma to one count of making a false statement in financial records of the Oklahoma City union in connection with his embezzlement of $12,937. He then pleaded guilty. The charge and plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
In the motion picture world, news about a scandal can travel slowly – very slowly. Late in March, Paramount Pictures announced it had dismissed a longtime executive, Stephen Koppekin, two years earlier for embezzling an unspecified sum of funds from three union benefit plans to which the studio makes contributions. The departure of Koppekin, Paramount’s vice president of industrial relations and a trustee for the plans, originally was attributed to “retirement.” Yet the real explanation was his hand in the till, says a whistleblower ex-employee, Nichole Goluskin. Koppekin denies all accusations. Yet even if he is innocent, the problem of benefits theft, and cover-up, may be far more common to the film industry than realized. The U.S. Department of Labor, for one, wants some answers.
On April 1, Henry Mayer, former financial secretary of National Association of Letter Carriers Local 852, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington to one count of embezzlement of an unspecified sum from the Yakima-based union. Mayer had been indicted on March 25 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.