Jacksonville ILA Official Charged with Protecting Rapist

As George Spencer campaigns for the presidency of Intl. Longshoremen Assn. Local 1408, he also awaits trial for witness tampering to shield a union member from rape charges. He is currently the financial officer and secy. of the Local, which the FBI was investigating for possible labor law violations last year.

As FBI agents monitored conversations in the union hall, they recorded Spencer offering $5,000 to persuade a woman raped by local member Jerome Williams not to testify at his trial. But reportedly, Spencer offered the bribe to a local undercover officer posing as the woman’s girlfriend. And FBI agents turned their tapes over to state prosecutors, who arrested Spencer in Jan. for felony witness-tampering. Williams was convicted of rape and armed kidnapping last May. Circuit Judge Michael Weatherby labeled him a sexual predator, and sentenced him to life in prison.

Spencer is still running for Local president, with the … Read More ➡

Convicted HI Union Chief Struggles to Hold Reins of Power

Despite his conviction on over 100 counts of embezzlement and fraud, and suspension from his office, Gary Rodrigues continued to wield authority over the Hawaii state govt. workers union, engineering the selection of his hand-picked successor.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, Ex-United Public Wrkrs. (UPW) Director Gary Rodrigues was convicted of accepting kickbacks from insurers doing business with the union, and arranging “consultant” fees for family members who did little or no union work. Rodrigues’ daughter, Robin Sabatini, was also convicted. On Thursday, the 21st, the Amer. Fedn. of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) announced that it had suspended Rodrigues, and informed UPW President George Yasumoto that he had the power to appoint a temporary successor.

The next day, however, Rodrigues showed up at UPW HQ in Honolulu, and convened a state exec. bd. meeting despite Yasumoto’s insistence that he had no power to call such meetings. Then, instead of … Read More ➡

DC Teachers Over-Charged more than $700K

Nearly 5,000 Washington, D.C. teachers were charged nine times their regular dues this summer. That discovery in Oct. has led to the resignations of several local officials and an investigation by the the U.S. Attny in D.C. But as reports of other financial improprieties have arisen from an audit by the Amer. Fedn. of Teachers (AFT), questions have also arisen as to why the AFT did nothing for five years after the Wash. Teachers Union (WTU) failed to submit a local audit as required under AFT rules.

After WTU president Barbara Bullock resigned, interim president Esther Hankerson urged members, in an Oct. 28 letter, not to talk to news media about the union’s financial problems but to direct inquiries to her. But Hankerson has not returned more than a dozen phone calls by local reporters, and a person who answered Hankerson’s cell phone claimed the reporter had the wrong number.… Read More ➡

Appeals Court Upholds IRB’s Power to Enforce Teamster Constitution

The oversight power of the Fed. Govt. over the Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters includes enforcement of the IBT constitution, as well as fed. labor law. A 3-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Ct. of Appeals held on Oct. 23 that the fed. Independent Review. Bd. (IRB) rightly barred two Calif. Teamsters officials from union membership for denying local bus. agents the right to run for union office.

Before 1990, bus. agents of the Orange-based Local 952 paid their dues by automatic deductions from their paychecks. But upon taking office, Secy.-Treas., Edward J. Mireles ordered those agents to begin paying their dues directly, and to miss monthly payments, so that they would be ineligible under local rules to run for union office. Paul J. Roa enforced the scheme. As a result, most of the union’s agents were ineligible to challenge Mireles in the ’92, ’95 and ’98 officer elections.

The IRB, … Read More ➡

Frmr. Officer Sentenced for Embezzlement from OH Union

U.S. Dist. Judge James Carr (U.S.D.C. N.D. OH, Clinton) sentenced Barbara Ryan to 15 mos. in prison on Dec. 2 for embezzling $117,734 from the union she served as secy./treasurer from 1992-2000. She was also sentenced for using her job in the payroll dept. of the BP Chemicals plant in Lima to steal $33,578. Ryan’s attny. claimed that she has repaid all of the funds she embezzled from Local 626 of the Allied Industrial, Chem. & Energy Workers union (PACE), and BP Chemicals. [Lima News 12/3/02]

NYC Developer Sentenced for Obstruction in $10 Million Fraud Probe
On Nov. 22, Edward Carroll, a prominent figure in construction development in New York City and the vice pres. of 2 BW Development, was sentenced in U.S. Dist. Ct. for the E. Dist. of NY for obstruction of justice. The charges were filed in connection with Carroll’s appearance before a federal grand jury on … Read More ➡

Minn. Bus. Mgr. Implicates 2nd Elected Official in Misuse of Union Funds

Thomas J. Martin pled guilty on Nov. 25 to misusing union funds just four days after City Councilman Joseph Biernat was convicted of accepting $2,700 in free plumbing work from Martin’s union, Local 15 of the United Assn. of Plumbers & Pipefitters. As he pled guilty, Martin revealed that he had also used $3,175 in union funds to pay for plumbing at a second elected official’s home in 1998. He did not reveal the identity of the official in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for Minn., but an attny. for ex-county commissioner Mark Andrew confirmed that FBI agents had questioned the frmr. state head of the Dem. Farmer-Labor party about plumbing work done at his home in May 1998.

In his plea, Martin admitted stealing from the union’s Industry Advance Fund to pay for Biernat’s plumbing. In exchange for his guilty plea to the two counts of misusing union funds, fed. … Read More ➡

Brooklyn Landlord Gets Light Sentence for Mob Scheme to Bribe Union Officials

Brooklyn Landlord Abe Weider received only 4 yrs. probation on Nov. 20 for his part in a Mafia conspiracy to bribe their way into replacing the union at Weider’s real estate development. Weider faced between 3 and 4 years in prison under fed. sentencing guidelines,  but U.S. Dist. Judge Leo Glasser (U.S.D.C. E.D. NY, Reagan) described Weider’s crime as “a marked deviation from an otherwise law-abiding life.”

Weider was indicted, along with 45 reputed members of five NY crime families, on Apr. 26 for attempting to use bribery to replace Local 32B-J of the Service Employees Intl. Union with a union friendly to the mob. Weider was charged with paying the $350,000 bribe because he was “petrified” at the prospect of labor unrest at Vanderveer Estates, acc. to his attny., Victor Rocco, who described Weider as the “victim” of the official taking the bribe. Asst. U.S. Attny. Paul Schoeman reminded … Read More ➡

Ex-Fin. Secy. Admits Stealing $14,000 from Minn. Union

On Nov. 27, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Dist. of Minn., Jerome J. Dube, frmr. fin. secy. of United Bhd. of Carpenters Local 1865, pled guilty to one count of embezzling $310.46 in union funds and admitted a total embezzlement of union funds in the approximate amount of $14,176. The charges had been brought following an investigation by the Minneapolis branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards. [DOL OLMS 12/4/02]

Ex-WI President Confesses to Embezzlement
On Nov. 19, in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the East. Dist. of Wisc., Steven Pautz, ex-pres. of Lodge 251 of the Intl. Assn. of Machinists, pled guilty to one count of embezzling $450 in union funds. In the plea agreement, Pautz agreed that the U.S. Attny. could establish the total amount stolen by Pautz to be $12,257, which could also affect Pautz’s sentence. The charges were brought following an investigation by … Read More ➡

New Details on New York Witness Tampering Case

As reported in the last the UCU, Matthew J. Downey, lead operator for Int’l Union of Elevator Constructors Local 1 in N.Y.C., was indicted Oct. 30 for witness tampering and obstruction of justice. The case is before U.S. Dist. Judge David G. Trager (E.D.N.Y., Clinton).  The U.S. Atty.’s Office for the E.D.N.Y. has provided the UCU with an July 25 affidavit of FBI Special Agent Joseph Bowen written in support of an application for an arrest warrant. It outlines troubling details on these alleged criminal acts.

According to the affidavit, Downey and other members and representatives of Local 1 have been submitting falsified time sheets to building contractors, which claim either inflated hours or hours for individuals who did not work at the job sites at all. Further, the Dep’t of Labor has reportedly found dozens of instances of double-dipping: individuals being paid for supposedly being at two different job … Read More ➡

New York Local Probed for Election Law Violations

Service Employees Int’l Union Local 32B-32J in N.Y.C. is being investigated for possible violations of a city campaign finance law in its political action efforts.  A subpoena was served Nov. 13 on Local 32B-32J by the office of Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau. Local president Michael Fishman said officials were asked to provide information related to the local’s “broad-based political action program” to support candidates in recently concluded city elections.

The investigation was apparently prompted by dissident Paul Pamias’s Oct. 12 letter to Morgenthau’s office. As previously reported in the UCU, Pamias told Morgenthau that the local was violating city law by “turning the union hall into a campaign headquarters” and compelling staff members to donate personal and vacation days to work on the losing mayoral campaign of city Public Advocate Mark Green (D), whose candidacy the local had endorsed.

“All the unions do this,” Pamias said, suggesting that … Read More ➡