KY Election Scandal Update

Teamsters Local 89 and the Kentucky Democratic Party are now seeking to block all indictments by the grand jury investigating the Teamsters’ connection to the 1995 election of Gov. Paul Patton (D). Consideration of indictments began Aug. 17. The action is the latest in the investigation and legal battle into whether Patton’s campaign circumvented spending caps with the help of the Teamsters and AFL-CIO. Also, the campaign work of Patton labor aide, Danny Ross, for the Teamsters between stints on the state payroll, is being probed. [Louisville Courier-Journal 08/19/98]

Nevada Workers Educate Public About Union Bosses
The last 3 years of annual reports of Nevada’s Culinary union are now available to the public thanks to the Nevada Employees for the Right to Work. “Our mission is to educate people,” said NERTW President Bruce Esgar. “The Culinary, for example, is always ready to point out how businesses make money at the expense of workers and usually point to executive salaries as proof.” According to Esgar, Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Jim Arnold’s salary includes $27,524 from Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l. Union on top of his base salary of $72,641 plus $ 10,400 in expenses, a total of more than $110,000. Another NERTW member said, “We were surprised to find out that Culinary bosses make two to three times as much as the average hotel worker.”

Also at issue: the union is $1.2 million in debt despite collecting more than $ 12.6 million in dues. The listed membership of 35,855 for 1997 is short of the 40,000 the union claims, and annual dues collected at $32.50 a month should be near $14 million rather than $12.6 million. Further, the union shipped almost one-third of the $12 million in dues to HERE’s offices in Washington, D.C. Anyone interested in more information, can call the NERTW at 702-364-0750.

Member Wins Dues Case
Reversing a 1995 decision in the same case, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Aug. 20 that the Transport Workers Union of America and TWU Local 525 violated the National Labor Relations Act by illegally threatening to get a worker fired for failure to pay union dues. After Local 525 expelled Douglas Nelson from the union for signing a petition supporting representation by another union, he stopped paying dues. Local 525’s president wrote Nelson in Feb. 1994 instructing him to pay alleged back dues and sent copies of the letter to TWU’s vice president and attorney. Four days after the first letter, the president informed Nelson that the union would request that Johnson Controls World Services, Inc., terminate him if he failed to remit the dues. NLRB ordered TWU to cease and desist from threatening employees with discharge and to post a notice informing members of the decision. [BNA 08/21/98]

Union Puts $40M into Organizing
The United Steelworkers of America at its international convention in Las Vegas created a new $40 million organizing fund for a “dramatic increase in organizing.” Top USWA boss George Becker bellowed, “Our greatest challenge is organizing. Our ability to organize and grow the union bears directly on our effectiveness at the bargaining table and in the political arena.” USWA’s Organizing Fund begins in Jan. 1999 when an increased dues payment of $20 per year per member goes into effect. An additional $20 increase starts Jan. 2000.