On September 30, Jerry Ragster, former president of United Auto Workers Local 3057, pleaded guilty in the 71st District Court of Harrison County, Texas to theft of $3,372 in funds from the Marshall, Tex.-based union. He made full restitution during his plea. Ragster had been indicted in November 2013 after an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards. UAW Local 3057 represented employees of Dana Corp. at the auto parts supplier's Longview plant until its closure in 2012.
On September 30, Patricia Moore, former secretary-treasurer of the National Union of Protective Services Associations (NUPSA), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 150 days of home confinement and four years of supervised probation for conspiracy to commit wire fraud from NUPSA and a related Washington, D.C.-based union, the National Union of Law Enforcement Associations. She also was ordered to pay $107,346 in restitution and a $100 assessment. Moore had been charged on October 13, 2011 for defrauding the unions in the amount of $109,866.17; she pleaded guilty two weeks later. The actions 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 September 29, Dale Hull, former secretary-treasurer for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Division 261, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to one count of embezzling union funds from the Herington, Kan.-based union. He had been indicted in July on five counts of embezzling more than $14,000. The guilty plea and indictment follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 22, Robert Vargeson, former secretary-treasurer of Communications Workers of America Local 88329, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to two years of probation for making false entries in financial records of the Gaines (formerly located in nearby Galeton), Pa. union to cover up theft in the amount of $6,373. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $6,013. Vargeson had pleaded guilty on April 24 after being charged 10 days earlier. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Intimidation is more than simply the use of physical force. It also is about the instilling of fear and shame in one's intended targets. Among labor leaders, one of the best tactics for getting the job done is the 'scab list.' The term refers to a longstanding union practice of compiling a list of employees at a given worksite who choose not to join a union or participate in a strike. The United Auto Workers in particular lately has been stepping up this practice as part of organizing drives in Right to Work states. Whether or not this tactic is legal, one thing is for certain: It amounts to bullying. By divulging the identities of workers who don't toe the union line, the scab list, like its close cousin, the card check, serves as a brake on a worker's right to say no. It is a reminder that "voluntary unionism" isn't quite voluntary in practice.
On September 2, Leonard Bridge II, former business manager of International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 131, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico to embezzling $140,877.56 in funds from the Albuquerque union. He had been indicted in February on 20 counts of embezzlement. At the time, he pleaded not guilty. Under the plea agreement, Bridge, now 44, a resident of Albuquerque, expects to be sentenced to between 12 to 24 months in prison, followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. He also will have to pay full restitution. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 19, Mark Whetstone, former president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3928, was sentenced in the County Court of Lancaster County, Nebraska, to 18 months of probation, and ordered to pay $4,811 in restitution, a $59 fine and $630 in fees, for theft by deception from the Lincoln-based union. He had pleaded no contest in May after being charged last December. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On September 19, Jackie Nutter, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 15485, was charged in the Greene County, Missouri Circuit Court with stealing $12,284 in funds from the Springfield, Mo.-based union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Considering that he won't do any prison time, Michael Sewell should consider himself fortunate. On October 30, Sewell, owner-operator of MESCO Inc., a suburban Baltimore HVAC and plumbing contractor, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to three years of supervised probation, and ordered to pay $89,222 in restitution, for underreporting hours worked by employees for the purpose of avoiding having to make contributions to International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers-managed benefit plans. Sewell had pleaded guilty in August after being charged in July. The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General.
Amy Atherton's original story sounded fishy. Eventually, prosecutors discovered the real one. On September 25, Atherton, a former bookkeeper with Laborers International Union of North America Local 366, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to six months in prison and three years of probation, including six months of home detention, for making false statements in relation to the disappearance of nearly $175,000 in funds from the Sheffield, Ala. union. She also will have to pay full restitution. Atherton had pleaded guilty in June following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department's Office of Labor-Management Standards.