Now John Sweeney is Willing to “Expose” Union Wrongdoing

Unions “must be just as willing to expose and remedy conflicts at Ullico as we have been at other companies in corporate America.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/9/03]

John Sweeney may wax eloquent about the obligation of union leaders to protect the workers they claim to represent.  But he is more than three years too late.

As a Ullico director, Sweeney was there in late 1999, when Georgine offered the option of buying Ullico stock “low.”  And he was there in 2000 and 2001 when the directors were allowed to sell it back “high.”  Sweeney did not participate in the insider deals.  But he apparently did not protest what he must have realized was a rotten deal for the millions of workers whose dues and pensions were tied to the gyrations in Ullico’s stock.

One possible explanation for Sweeney’s earlier silence involves a $24 million debt that the AFL-CIO has owed … Read More ➡

2nd AFT Local Implodes, this Time in Miami

For the second time this year, the Amer. Fedtn. of Teachers has taken over a local affiliate under investigation for possible embezzlement by the local hierarchy.  The first came early this year, in Washington, D.C., as the AFT took over that Local after a federal investigation and AFT audit found up to $5 million missing under the leadership of its ex-president, Barbara Bullock. 

The latest scandal is in Miami, Fla.  Pat Tornillo, who built the United Teachers of Dade (UTD) into a behemoth union overseeing all 27,900 teachers and support staff in Dade County over four decades, placed himself on indefinite leave on April 30.  He will continue to take in an annual salary of $243,000.  The takeover occurred the day after federal investigators raided the UTD’s headquarters, seizing Tornillo’s expense reports, reimbursement forms, credit cards records, appointment books and tax returns.

Tornillo is under suspicion for using members’ dues … Read More ➡

Fed. Judge Blasts AFT for Failing to Stop Massive Embezzlement in Wash., DC

“It’s a sad commentary…It seems everyone in a responsible position fell asleep at the switch.  The only ones who were vigilant were the thieves, who took everything that wasn’t nailed down.” — U.S. Dist. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (Wash., D.C., Clinton)

Judge Sullivan made his comment during an April 30 hearing on a motion by local teacher Nathan Saunders to impose a court monitor on the Amer. Fedtn. of Teachers’ temporary trusteeship of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU), from which its recently deposed leaders apparently stole $5 million.  He was shocked to hear AFT lawyers say that while the AFT requires audits from its affiliates every two years (which the WTU failed to do), it had no legal responsibility to even verify that the audits had been filed.… Read More ➡

Jacksonville President “Reviewing” Offer of 1 Year in Jail for Witness Tampering in Rape Case

George Spencer, president of Local 1408 of the Intl. Longshoremen Assn. (ILA) will “review” an offer from an Asst. State Attny. that he serve one year in jail and pay $5,000 in investigative costs for witness tampering in a case involving a Local 1408 member.

The FBI says it taped Spencer offering to pay an undercover agent posing as the victim’s boyfriend to persuade her not to testify at the trial of Jerome Williams.  Convicted of rape and armed kidnapping in May 2002, Williams was labelled a sexual predator by Circuit Judge Michael Weatherby, who sentenced Williams to life in prison. 

Amid publicity over the witness tampering case, Spencer was elected president of the Local last December.  But if he accepts the offer, ILA officials say they will recommend his resignation.  George and his brother, Charles Spencer, are also facing charges in a civil lawsuit that they made sexual advances … Read More ➡

Fallout from Embezzlement Scandal Hits Law & Accounting Firms

The law and accounting firms whose partners assisted officials of the Intl. Assn. of Iron Wrkrs. (IAIW) in their massive embezzlement are now paying the price.  In an agreement deferring prosecution by the U.S. Attny’s. Ofc. for Washington, D.C., the law firm has agreed to drop the name of the founding partner, the late Victor Van Bourg, who helped hide the embezzlement of some $1.5 million in the 1990s.  The accounting firm of Thomas Havey, LLC, whose partners also concealed the embezzlement, broke up in January with a new firm, Legacy Professionals, retaining its other numerous union clients.

Van Bourg was General Counsel of the IAIW in 1992 when Jake West became its president.  For the next six years, Van Bourg helped West and other officials in the union’s Washington, D.C. headquarters hide their theft of over $1.5 million from the union to pay for dining, golfing and other entertainment … Read More ➡

Oklahoma Right to Work Law Goes Back to State Supreme Court

Ironically arguing that the state of Oklahoma cannot protect the right to join a union, union lawyers have successfully stalled a final decision as to whether Oklahoma’s popular Right to Work constitutional amendment will be upheld.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit – based in Denver – has ruled that the provision in Oklahoma’s Right to Work Law that protects the right to join a union is also preempted by the NLRA (which already protects that very right), and thus can only be enforced as to public employees in the state. The State Supreme Court must now decide whether the preempted provisions of the law are severable from the core of the law, which establishes the right of employees not to join or financially support an unwanted union.

In September 2001, Oklahoma voters enacted State Question 695, making Oklahoma the nation’s twenty-second Right to Work state. The … Read More ➡

Jersey City Union Boss, Fla. Developer, Indicted for Embezzling Welfare Funds

On May 5, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment against two union officials and a building contractor in an embezzlement scheme against Local 148 of the Novelty and Production Workers Union in Jersey City, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.

The indictment alleges that between 1992 and 2001, Joseph Nardone, Jr., 49, of Bayonne, the Welfare and Pension Fund Administrator for Local 148 and the Local’s recently removed President, and Stanley Rothman, 67, a building contractor now residing in Boynton Beach, Fla., conspired with each other and others to embezzle more than $350,000 in welfare and union funds through a multi-faceted fraud scheme.  The indictment also charges Peter Hasho, 67, of Long Island, President of Local 713 of the International Brotherhood of Trade Unions, located in Albertson, N.Y.

According to Count One of the Indictment, the majority of the embezzled funds were obtained through a scheme to generate … Read More ➡

2 More Fish Netted in NYC Racketeering Scheme

Two of the leaders in the racketeering scheme at more than 20 New York City construction sites from 1989-2001 pled guilty in late April. The scheme of payments for no-show jobs and “labor peace” cost more than $6 million in lost wages and benefits.

On April 24, in the U.S. Dist. Court for the Eastern Dist. of NY, Matthew Joseph Downey, a representative of Local One of the Intl Union of Elevator Constructors, pled to racketeering, unlawful labor payments, money laundering conspiracy, witness tampering, and tax evasion.  He agreed to forfeit $800,000 to the United States Government within 120 days from his assets representing a portion of the racketeering profits.

He was originally indicted on February 5, 2002 on charges relating to a no-show scheme at construction sites in New York City following a joint investigation by the New York branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards, the U.S. … Read More ➡

Another Guilty Plea in NYC MTA Fraud Case

On April 11, Morris Diminno, a former representative of the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers Local 14, pled guilty to conspiracy to receive, possess and dispose of money obtained by fraud and transported across state lines, unlawful labor payment, engaging in an unlawful monetary transaction, and obstruction of justice.  He agreed to forfeit $800,000 to the United States Government within 90 days from various assets. He had been indicted on April 16, 2002 on charges relating to the taking of payoffs to help developers at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s renovation site bill the MTA for no-show workers at inflated rates.  The charges had been brought following a joint investigation by the New York branch of the U.S. Ofc. of Labor-Mgmt. Standards (OLMS) and the FBI. [OLMS, 4/30/03]

Ohio Union Boss Held in Contempt

On April 23, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern Dist. of Ohio, James E. Miller, … Read More ➡

Grand Jury Closes in on Ullico Directors: Georgine Steps Down

A Washington, D.C. grand jury has subpoenaed union directors and executives of the Ullico board to testify about their buying and selling of Ullico stock at the expense of the union pension funds that underwrite the company.  At the time of the sales, that board included AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney, who didn’t participate in the scheme, but has since resigned in protest over the sales, even though he apparently did not protest until the scandal became public last year.

Georgine agreed on April 23 not to run for another term on the Ullico board at its annual meeting in May, but also said he intends to remain as president and CEO.  However, with Sweeney and other disgruntled union chiefs pushing a slate of 13 new directors for the Ullico board, leaving only two from the board that approved the sales, Georgine may have trouble keeping his offices at Ullico come … Read More ➡