Secretary-Treasurer of Machinists Local in Maine Indicted

On October 11, Jeffrey Phillips, former financial secretary-treasurer of International Association of Machinists Local 836, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine on one count of theft in a sum of more than $1,000 from the Kittery-based union, which represents workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Laborers Business Manager in New Hampshire Sentenced for Embezzlement

On October 10, Dennis Robertson, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 668, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire to three years of probation for embezzling $37,897 in funds from the Hookset union during the period August 2015-February 2017. He also was ordered to pay full restitution. He had pleaded guilty in June following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Couple Pleads Guilty to Ripping Off Texas LIUNA Local; Sentenced

Orville and Teri Rae Merritt aren’t married to each other anymore. They’re probably relieved as such. On October 18, Orville Merritt, ex-business manager and treasurer of Laborers International Union of North America, pleaded guilty in the 78th District Court of Texas for his role in the theft of nearly $46,000 in funds from the Wichita Falls union, and was sentenced to three years in prison. His sentence reflects his creating a fake Facebook account in his wife’s name in order to defraud her. Teri Rae Merritt, now known as Teri Rae Coan, shouldn’t get much sympathy. On October 30, she was sentenced to 10 years of supervision for theft from the union, where she had been office manager. She had pleaded guilty on October 25 after being charged on October 4. Both must pay restitution. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Laborers Local 1168 … Read More ➡

Ex-UAW Official Pleads Guilty to Receiving Bribes, Kickbacks

The strike by nearly 50,000 United Auto Workers against General Motors ended after nearly six weeks on October 25. But Jeffrey Pietrzyk’s troubles are far from over. On October 22, Pietrzyk, a retired top aide to ex-UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, pleaded guilty in Ann Arbor federal court to honest services fraud and money laundering charges in connection with his acceptance of about $123,000 in bribes and kickbacks from union vendors. He had been charged on September 20. His offenses were part of a dozen-year, $2 million scheme in the union’s GM Department led by now-convicted ex-UAW official Michael Grimes. The actions follow an investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Union Corruption Update covered this scandal in August and September. The United Auto Workers’ General Motors Department, like its Chrysler Department, has been the focus … Read More ➡

Treasurer for Ohio Painters Local Indicted for Embezzlement

On October 10, Shannon Pemberton, former treasurer of International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 238, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky for embezzling $6,403 in funds from the Cincinnati-based union. The alleged offenses occurred in neighboring Kentucky. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Teachers Union President in Philadelphia Charged with Embezzlement

On October 1, James Young, president of American Federation of Teachers Local 4973, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with embezzlement of funds from the Philadelphia union in the sum of $7,050. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Another Brooklyn UFCW Boss Sentenced for Racketeering

These last few months haven’t been good to the mob-connected former leaders of two Brooklyn, N.Y. affiliates of the United Food and Commercial Workers. One of them, Vincent D’Acunto, head of UFCW Local 2D, was sentenced in August. Now it’s Frank Cognetta’s turn. On September 6, Cognetta, former secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1D, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to two years in prison and three years of supervised release for racketeering conspiracy related to his fleecing the Brooklyn union in return for kickbacks from a benefits consultant. Cognetta, like D’Acunto, had pleaded guilty this March after being indicted in January 2018. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the NYPD, and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

According to prosecutors, Cognetta, a resident of Staten Island, “engaged in multiple schemes to defraud his union…by, among other things, soliciting and accepting bribes … Read More ➡

Civilian Technicians President in Iowa Pleads Guilty to Fraud

On September 27, Gregg Pedersen, former president of Association of Civilian Technicians Local 75, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa to one count of wire fraud in the amount of $6,320 from the Sioux City-based union. He had been charged in August. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Steelworkers Secretary in Tennessee Indicted for Embezzlement

On September 17, Travis Cofer, former secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 990, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee on one count of embezzling $12,432 in funds from the Maryville (near Knoxville) union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Climate Action 100+: A Global Warming Activism Shakedown

What’s green, worth tens of trillions of dollars, and makes corporations an offer they can’t refuse? The answer: Climate Action 100+, an institutional investor-led initiative that in its brief existence has emerged as a force for radical social transformation. The group already has secured commitments from more than 160 corporations worldwide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to target levels set by the Paris Climate Change Agreement of 2015, a pact from which President Trump announced withdrawal plans in June 2017. Suppose a company doesn’t want to commit. Well…that could create problems.

Like any scientific controversy, climate change invites skepticism. Human activity may be responsible for increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations which raise temperatures and threaten ecosystems. Yet there is compelling evidence that global warming is due to non-human factors and that it alternates with global cooling in a recurring cycle. The issue, in other words, is far from … Read More ➡