George Crocker and the union he once ran are headed for a showdown. And as the evidence mounts, his case is looking worse by the month. Crocker is the focus of an independent audit ordered by members of Local 1462 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents bus workers in St. John’s, the principal city of Newfoundland, Canada. He’d been fired last fall by his employer, Metrobus, with whom he currently is in an arbitration dispute. Several members of the union’s roughly 100 employees demanded an audit of its spending during his tenure. Completed in June, the audit alleges a recurring pattern of excessive entertainment expenses, signature forgeries, duplicate payments, and unauthorized air travel, revealing “many thousands of dollars” had been inappropriately spent during January 2002-April 2006.
The audit did not provide a complete item-by-item breakdown nor did it formally accuse any individuals of wrongdoing. But it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Local 1462 executive committee effectively had given Crocker free reign. The audit revealed numerous instances of an expense not accompanied by an invoice or receipt. Even where there had been documentation, spending often bore little or no relationship to legitimate union business. Of the nearly $90,000 in charges to the union credit card, much of it went for clothing, cigarettes, beer, prescriptions, toiletries and other personal items. Perhaps most telling, the local had made payments totaling nearly $9,000 to Larry Kinnear, an ATU international vice president. “We understand that charges incurred by the international vice president on union business should normally be covered by the international union,” the audit stated.
Crocker insists he’s done no wrong, and says the union’s executive board had approved all spending. “George Crocker didn’t make any decisions on his own,” he said of himself. “It was all approved by the executive (committee). I believe those people were named in the audit as well.” Union members might have a different point of view. Starting late in the summer, local officials circulated the audit among rank and file for review. In the meantime, the executive committee has been dissolved and a trustee has been appointed to oversee the local. (The Telegram, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 9/16/06).