The year 2018 saw the indictment, conviction and sentences of plenty of organized labor scams. New York City played host to some of the largest. For sheer magnitude, nothing anywhere could match the network of union fraud surrounding the construction of Hudson Yards, a large-scale, mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side. Set for completion in 2024, the project from the start has been a source of easy money for labor organizations affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The general contractor, Related Companies, having reached the limits of frustration, filed suit last March with the State Supreme Court against the council and its president for promoting or allowing illegal practices that allegedly have added over $100 million to the total project cost.
On one level, 2017 was a very good year. President Trump, a man who works with unions rather than for them, took office in January. He named Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel (each approved by the Senate) to fill National Labor Relations Board vacancies, and Peter Robb, another ally of individual worker liberty, as NLRB general counsel. This contrasted with former President Obama’s picks, which created a natural 3-2 pro-union board majority. The reconstituted board already has made a difference. Last month, in PCC Structurals Inc., the board raised the bar for “micro-union” organizing, overturning the misguided Specialty Healthcare decision of 2011. At the state level, Kentucky and Missouri early in the year passed Right to Work legislation (each signed by the respective governors) to protect private-sector nonunion workers from having to pay union dues to keep their jobs.
Crucial as such countervailing forces to union power were, unions … Read More ➡
Benefit scams, especially involving health plans, grabbed the lion’s share of union corruption stories in 2016. Scammers came from outside as well as from inside the unions, a fact highlighting the need for trustees to exercise greater due diligence in choosing outside parties. There were also the usual cases of six-figure (or more) embezzlement and fraud against union general funds. Labor officials, meanwhile, expanded their misguided campaign to enact a $15 an hour minimum wage. They also tried to undo Right to Work laws in three states, temporarily achieving success in two by way of court action. And a deadlocked Supreme Court enabled state and local public-sector union bosses to retain their authority to coerce dues payments from unwilling workers. In other words, there was plenty to write about. Here were the ten stories that mattered most:
10) Hawaii contractor pleads guilty; sentenced for scamming Painters union, benefit fund, IRS … Read More ➡
As in 2014, union leaders last year directed much of their energies toward maximizing political and legal advantage. And they scored tangible victories. President Barack Obama, now in his last year in office, is without question the best White House friend of organized labor in decades. Among other things, unions won major cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), with its built-in 3-2 Democratic Party majority. And the Teamsters achieved its long-sought goal of release from federal control established following a 1989 civil racketeering settlement. Yet organized labor also experienced its share of setbacks, especially in the courts. And they received lots of unwanted exposure for embezzlement and fraud. As far as rank and file members are concerned, the most pressing problem is the growing possibility that their pension plans will be depleted.
The NLRB delivered two indisputably enormous victories for labor. As discussed at length last January, the … Read More ➡
If the year 2014 had a main theme, it was, as in 2013, the unions’ pursuit of legal advantage. The results were mixed. Unions scored victories at the National Labor Relations Board, but they tasted defeat in the courts, most notably in their effort to unionize private home care providers in Illinois and overturn a Wisconsin law reining in public-sector costs. In another bitter pill, the United Auto Workers last February lost a representation election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. As for dipping their hands in tills, national union leaders generally behaved themselves, but many local bosses, office employees and business agents did not. A suit by dissidents against a Los Angeles-area Operating Engineers local revealed first-term Obama Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and its bosses and associates, to have ethically-challenged pasts. Whether successful or not, then, unions once again provided much to write about.
The National Labor Relations Board, … Read More ➡
Though union membership as a share of American workers continues its long decline, union officials in 2013 showed they’re not the sort to stand on the sidelines, especially in the legal realm. Organized labor was unusually active last year in using the courts and Congress to press their interests. Their ultimate weapon: immigration amnesty/surge legislation. Eight members of the Senate, four from each party (“the Gang of Eight”), solicited advice exclusively from supporters of open borders in hopes of achieving their idea of “comprehensive reform.” The Senators unveiled the measure in April and passed it by 68-32 in June, Yet the bill, deservedly, has stalled in the House. Drafted in secret, with no hearings or debate, it represents a corruption of the political process. If the since-amended proposal becomes law, the result would be a further undercutting of entry-level wages for U.S. workers. Whether sinister or simply naive, union … Read More ➡
The increasing overlap of labor and political activism is an insidious form of public corruption in this country. It enables union officials to deemphasize their role of representing workers at the bargaining table in favor of advocating policies to socialize the economy, building incestuous relationships with politicians, and fattening their bank accounts. This tendency was heavily felt in 2012, a presidential election year. Union leaders recognized the need to re-elect their ally and benefactor, President Barack Obama, over someone who was a wealthy Republican with a strong business background; i.e., someone they truly could despise. They got what they wanted. In the process, they further built a political infrastructure. Yet union leaders also experienced reversals of fortune at the state level – most of all, in Michigan – where they had been used to getting their way.
Unions for many years have been a highly reliable segment of the Democratic Party Left. Yet this perhaps no more was this true than in 2011 – and with good reason. The year began with the Republicans holding a nearly 50-seat edge in the House of Representatives following the GOP’s smashing wins in the November 2010 midterm elections. Avoiding legislative process became a top priority for organized labor. Union officials and organizers at every opportunity created and exploited populist rage toward the wealthy, now redubbed “the 1 percent,” playing a key role in shutting down the Wisconsin State Capitol, organizing Occupy Wall Street protests, and conducting corporate harassment campaigns. Taking the high road, unions also heavily relied on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to enact what amounted to stealth legislation.
In the NLRB, at least, unions had a true ally. By law, the normally five-member NLRB must consist … Read More ➡
Organized labor, masters of aggressive politics, had its share of triumphs in 2010. With Democrats, their natural ally, the previous year having taken control of the White House and the Senate while increasing their advantage in the House, this was to be expected. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other union officials used their window of opportunity to pressure Congress into passing a health care overhaul mandating unprecedented degrees of government intrusion, and by extension, major opportunities for unionization of the health care labor force. They also secured key presidential appointments.
That said, the year was noteworthy for legislative mandates unions didn’t achieve, especially forced private-sector employer recognition of majority union “card checks” and forced state and local government bargaining with public-safety unions. The new Congress, with a GOP House majority, is far less likely to deliver on either count. Meanwhile, Justice Department crackdowns finished off various union-Mafia scams. Embezzlers, great and small, … Read More ➡
“We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama – $60.7 million to be exact – and we’re proud of it,” Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern proclaimed last year. Now he and other labor leaders want a full return on their investment. “A full return,” more than anything else, means getting Congress, the executive branch and the courts to transform labor law and policy into vehicles for a massive expansion of union membership and bargaining power. That goal surely would have been realized were it not for dogged and principled opposition. The 2008 presidential and congressional elections provided a rare opportunity for organized labor to lead a coalition for a radical economic and political shift. The Treasury Department’s strong-arming of General Motors and Chrysler into allowing the United Auto Workers to own a sizable stake in each company testifies to the power of organized labor with close … Read More ➡