UNITE HERE Loses Court Bid to Keep Records Sealed in Cintas Case

A union’s right to confidentiality has limits – at least when it comes to violating the confidentiality of workers whom they seek to organize. That’s what a federal judge ruled on December 4 as part of a running battle between the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees-Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (UNITE HERE) and Cintas Corp., one of the nation’s largest industrial uniform companies. U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell in Philadelphia agreed that the union, in its zeal to organize workers at the Cintas plant in Emmaus, Pa. (Lehigh County), must be transparent about its overall organizing strategy.

 

Back in June 2005, several employees at the plant sued the union, alleging organizers had violated their privacy by copying down motor vehicle license-plate information in order to track down vehicle owners for home visits. In rulings last August and October, Judge Dalzell agreed with the plaintiffs that UNITE HERE organizers Read More ➡ “UNITE HERE Loses Court Bid to Keep Records Sealed in Cintas Case”

County Sheriff Investigating Embezzlement from Alabama Local

The Jefferson County, Alabama sheriff’s department is pretty certain they have their person. The department, acting on a tip back in October, conducted a probe into the disappearance of nearly $50,000 in funds from Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 64, a group made up primarily of sheriff’s deputies in the county, which encompasses Birmingham. The suspect, though not yet charged with a crime, is a retired sheriff’s department secretary-treasurer. Prosecutors reportedly expect to file a charge of first-degree theft against the individual, who was not publicly identified.

The probe began after newly-elected FOP Lodge 64 President Robert Thompson took office. As required by the group’s by-laws, he obtained an independent audit of lodge financial records. At that point, the secretary, anticipating detection, contacted an attorney who in turn got in touch with FOP officials. “Once they called for an audit, she felt the theft would be found,” said sheriff’s spokesman Read More ➡ “County Sheriff Investigating Embezzlement from Alabama Local”

Philadelphia Local Chieftains Agree to File Disclosure Forms

Complying with Department of Labor (DOL) requirements for financial transparency doesn’t portend the return of slavery in this country after all.  On January 8, following a nearly two-year holdout, Robert and David Taylor, respectively the president and treasurer of Transport Workers Union Local 700, representing parking garage attendants in Philadelphia, agreed in federal court to disclose their union’s revenues and expenditures.  The consent decree stated that the union would be “permanently enjoined and restrained” from further failure to file its required annual LM-3 disclosure form.  Local 700 had not filed reports for the years 2002-05.  And this was no act of forgetfulness.

 Union Corruption Update previously reported that the DOL on September 21 had filed a civil complaint against the union, demanding that the Taylors complete and submit all back reports.  The department justifiably believed that it had run out of options.  The Read More ➡ “Philadelphia Local Chieftains Agree to File Disclosure Forms”

Judge Reduces Sentence of Ex-Washington, D.C. Local Boss

Barbara Bullock, the imprisoned former president of the Washington Teachers Union, sought leniency for helping federal prosecutors to convict two top former colleagues.  And on January 23, she received it.  U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon reduced Miss Bullock’s nine-year prison sentence by more than two years for having helped prosecutors secure the convictions in 2005 of ex-union treasurer James O. Baxter II and office manager Gwendolyn M. Hemphill.  Bullock, said prosecutors, provided key leads and court testimony. 

Bullock pled guilty in late 2003 to masterminding at least $4.6 million in thefts from the union during 1995-2002.  She made more headlines with how she spent the money than how she got it, indulging herself, among other things, on $500,000 on custom-made clothing and $100,000 on Washington Redskins and Washington Wizards season tickets.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Alexis said that without Bullock’s help, investigators would Read More ➡ “Judge Reduces Sentence of Ex-Washington, D.C. Local Boss”

Cincinnati Contractor Associate Pleads No Contest to Fraud

On January 22, Michael Griffie, an associate of a Cincinnati-area contractor, Electrical Innovations, pleaded guilty in Hamilton County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas to one count of unauthorized use of property.  He had been charged back in March with aggravated theft of property or services worth at least $100,000 from International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 212, and with tampering with market recovery forms and forging market recovery fund forms for the purpose of defrauding the local.  The no-contest plea follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  The co-owners of Electrical Innovations, Rachetta Johnson and Charlene Monroe, were sentenced last September to five years probation and 500 hours of community service after pleading guilty to theft by deception.  (OLMS, 1/25/07).

 

Ex-Office Manager in Minnesota Sentenced for Embezzlement

On January 8, Kathryn Stark, former office manager for IBEW Local 31, was sentenced Read More ➡ “Cincinnati Contractor Associate Pleads No Contest to Fraud”

Political/Corporate Campaigns, Scams and New Books Led in 2006

And so another year of greed, deceit, treachery and redemption has ended.  The year 2006 provided a great many stories on labor union corruption.  Picking the top ten most important was far from easy.  In one sense, the worst is behind us. The Mafia and other crime syndicates no longer dominate international union leadership in ways that they used to.  And the system can be said to be working in the sense that many corrupt union officials, business agents, trustees and office employees have been caught and punished.  Unfortunately, in another sense, the system isn’t working.  It often takes years, never mind months before a pattern of theft is discovered either from within or outside the union.  The past year witnessed no falloff in the incidence of thefts and other scams.   

 

Not every story described here involved outright theft.  It’s important to remember that the masthead of each issue describes Read More ➡ “Political/Corporate Campaigns, Scams and New Books Led in 2006”

Union Ally ACORN Produces Voter Registration Fraud in Missouri, Elsewhere

The new 110th Congress convened at the start of this month with something it hadn’t had in a dozen years: a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. But amid the party’s hoopla over Nancy Pelosi’s ascent to House Speaker is the reality that its Senate majority is a thin 51-49, allowing for the fact that the two “Independent” senators, Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), are Democrats all but in name. That edge could be the result of a close 2006 race in Missouri, where Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill defeated incumbent Republican Senator Jim Talent. Her margin of victory of slightly less than 50,000 votes very likely in part was the result of voter registration fraud. And the culprit is an operator familiar to the radical political landscape: the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. Investigative reporting by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Wall Street JournalRead More ➡ “Union Ally ACORN Produces Voter Registration Fraud in Missouri, Elsewhere”

Jury Convicts Florida Bosses in Criminal Racketeering Suit

It was the end of the line for Michael and Robert McKay.  They’d been the targets of an extensive racketeering probe into their union, the American Maritime Officers.  Late Friday afternoon January 5, a federal jury in Broward County, Fla., after just one day of deliberation, rendered its verdict:  guilty.  The McKay brothers, respectively, AMO president and secretary-treasurer, had been accused by the Justice Department of rigging elections, stealing benefit plan funds and obstructing justice.  The jury convicted the pair on a variety of charges, including racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and record forgery. 

Federal prosecutors called forth almost 30 witnesses to the stand during the four-week trial, reviewing thousands of documents.  The McKay brothers, whose father, Raymond, had served as president of the 4,000-member Dania Beach, Fla.-based union for 36 years, insisted they’d been framed.  That’s what Michael McKay’s lawyer, Neal Sonnett, Read More ➡ “Jury Convicts Florida Bosses in Criminal Racketeering Suit”

Ex-Pension Consultant in Illinois Sentenced for Theft

As a pension management consultant, Michael Linder’s job was to make money for his clients, especially labor unions.  Unfortunately, his main interest seemed to be making money for himself and his cronies – and in illegal ways.  Now he’s found out just how high the price was.  On December 20, U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard in Rockford, Ill. ordered Linder to serve seven years in prison for defrauding nearly a dozen separate union pension plans out of $5 million and embezzling another $1.9 million from five union benefit plans.  In addition, Linder will have to make restitution on $6.6 million of that combined amount.  He pleaded guilty in June.  It was a conclusion a decade in the making, involving local affiliates of the Iron Workers, Sheet Metal Workers, Painters and other unions across the state of Illinois.

 

Linder headed Joseph/Anthony & Associates, based Read More ➡ “Ex-Pension Consultant in Illinois Sentenced for Theft”

Prosecutors End Riverside, Calif. Sheriff’s Office Probe

riversideSometimes rumor doesn’t translate into fact – at least the kind that can be prosecuted.  That’s apparently true at the Riverside (Calif.) Sheriff’s Association.  This past September, FBI agents raided the association office, looking for evidence of potential misuse of more than $100,000 in funds intended to cover attorney’s fees for a previously fired sheriff’s deputy.  The feds had acted on unsigned fax messages bearing the heading, “Corruption Within the Sheriff’s Association,” the result of a bitter feud between the current association president and a terminated employee who’d managed its legal defense fund.  Last summer, federal prosecutors filed a confidential document in Riverside County Superior Court indicating the FBI and the Labor Department were conducting a joint investigation.  The results are now in:  There’s nothing to investigate.

 

The inquiry, which lasted at least a full year, was triggered when anonymous faxes showed up at sheriff’s stations throughout Riverside County alleging Read More ➡ “Prosecutors End Riverside, Calif. Sheriff’s Office Probe”