Zogby Poll Finds Support for Union Accountability Among Union Members

The renowned pollster John Zogby has found that a strong majority of union members support requiring union bosses to give detailed reports of union finances to discourage union corruption, and the Right to Work without paying union dues as a condition of employment.  The poll was conducted for, and released by, the Public Service Research Fdtn. (PSRF) on March 4.


The Zogby poll was conducted from Feb. 5-9 this year, with 1,207 adults interviewed to form the sample group.  According to the poll, 73 pct. of Americans agree that individual wrkrs. should be free to decide for themselves whether to financially support a union, regardless of whether they are represented by that union.  Even 54 pct. of union members agree with that statement.


AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney has claimed that recent reforms of the financial disclosure forms required to be filed with the U.S. Dept. Read More ➡

He’ll Be Back, Philly Union Boss Promises

Sherman Harris, a frmr. official of Philadelphia’s biggest govt. union, admitted no wrongdoing before he was sentenced to 2 yrs. in prison for taking kickbacks from city contractors.  And the “once-and-future” exec. asst. of Dist. Council 33 of the Amer. Fedtn. of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) said he expected to be rehired to his $72,000-a-yr. job once he completes his jail term.  Dist. Council 33 president Herman “Pete” Matthews defended Harris’s character at an earlier hearing.


Harris was 1 of 18 city supervisors indicted in the kickback scheme, which fed. prosecutors said cost taxpayers $2.1 million from 1993-99.  During that period, father-and-son owners of AAA Electric Motor, John and Nicholas Fafalios, paid the supervisors to approve invoices that were either grossly inflated or included work never done.  Harris personally took $45,803 from the Fafalios.  He was convicted in Oct. of 2002.

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AFL-CIO Slapped Back in Effort to Stop Disclosure Reforms

U.S. Dist. Judge Gladys Kessler (D.C., Clinton) upheld the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s improved disclosure forms required of the nation’s largest unions on Jan. 22.  She delayed the implementation of the new LM-2 financial forms until July of this year, provided that the DOL makes available a fully tested version of its electronic reporting software at least ninety days before July.  With this ruling, unions with over $250,000 in annual income will likely have to account for their use of union dues for political activities in the 2nd half of this election yr.


Late last yr., Kessler issued a preliminary injunction suspending the new forms for all of 2004.  But on the 22nd, she ruled that when Congress enacted the Labor-Mgmt. Reporting & Disclosure Act (LMRDA) in 1959, it “gave the Secretary [of Labor] broad authority to require the filing of financial reports…[and] that Congress delegated Read More ➡

Ex-President Indicted for Embezzlement in CT Fed. Court

Kevin J. O’Connor, U.S. Attny. for the Dist. of Conn. announced on Jan. 26 the indictment and arrest of Allen Cahill on charges of embezzling union funds and willfully failing to keep union records.  The two-count indictment was filed by a Grand Jury sitting in New Haven on Oct. 7, 2003, but was kept sealed until Cahill was arrested. 


According to that indictment, while he was President of Local 745 of the  Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chem. and Energy Wrkrs. Union (PACE), Cahill embezzled, stole, and converted to his own use approximately $42,047 in union funds by using the union’s debit card to make cash withdrawals or to purchase items of a personal nature, by increasing his salary as union president without authorization, and by obtaining travel funds for trips he either never took or union trips on which he brought his family along with him.  Cahill Read More ➡

Reelected Chief of DC 37 Accused of Smears

Charles Ensley, narrowly defeated in his campaign to become exec. dir. of the biggest govt. union in NYC, accused the victorious incumbent, Lillian Roberts, of “smears and untruths” in the campaign.  Roberts got 53 pct. of the vote to Ensley’s 47 pct. in the Jan. 27 election of officers of Dist. Council 37, the troubled affiliate of the Amer. Fedtn. of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME).  A string of rigged votes on contracts and officers, and nearly $6 million in kickbacks and financial thefts, led to the conviction of more than 30 union officials in the late 90s.


Roberts was first elected to head DC 37 nearly 2 yrs. ago, after the city union was released from a trusteeship imposed by AFSCME.  Since then, she has come under fire for a contract awarded to her nephew.  Three days after the DC 37 exec. bd. Read More ➡

Ex-Calif. President Charged with Embezzling More than He Admitted

Local prosecutors filed a felony embezzlement charge against Robert Gilstrap, who turned himself in to Clovis police on Jan. 22.  According to Fresno County Deputy Dist. Attny. John Savrnoch, Gilstrap embezzled the funds from the Clovis Public Works Employees Affiliation over the 10 yrs. that he was president and treasurer of the union, until May 2003.  The local union has since affiliated with the Intl. Union of Operating Engineers.  When he resigned last year, Gilstrap admitted to stealing $58,000.  Auditors for the union say that Gilstrap actually stole $96,519.  Clovis police spokeswoman Janet Stoll-Lee told the Fresno Bee, “There was no firm figure listed when we turned it in to the district attorney’s office.  We are estimating it’s about $80,000.”  Gilstrap is currently free on $5,000 bail. [Fresno Bee, 1/23/04]


Dallas Jury Issues Split Verdict on Frmr. Union ChiefRead More ➡

Fed. Investigator Charges CA Guards Union with Cover-up

An investigator appointed by a fed. judge has concluded that officials of the state’s prison guards union have protected rogue guards, resulting in a code of silence where “good officers turn bad.”  Special Master John Hagar released a 71-page report on Jan. 15 recommending criminal contempt charges against the frmr. head of the Calif. Dept. of Corrections, Edward Alameida, and an ex-chief deputy, Thomas Moore. 


According to Hagar, the two quashed an investigation of guards at Pelican Bay State Prison on perjury charges, and then deceived Hagar.  Alameida’s decision to end the internal probe reportedly came just days after a telephone call with the vice president of the Calif. Correctional Peace Officers Assn.


Last year, fed. officials turned over to the state evidence that at least 3 guards lied under oath about 2 other guards, Edward Powers and Jose Garcia, who were convicted of beating Read More ➡

Ex-President Indicted for Embezzlement, Falsification, in OH Court

Allan Spates was indicted on Dec. 22 on charges that he embezzled $29,746 from the union he formerly served as president.  He is also charged with falsifying the financial disclosure form he filed for the union with the U.S. Dept. of Labor.  Spates was president of Local 5-1250 of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Wrkrs. union (PACE) in Ravenna, Ohio.  From at least Jan. 2000 through Oct. 2001, Spates allegedly pocketed members’ dues payments, used the Union’s debit card for personal purchases, made false claims of lost time for which the Union compensated him, and obtained unauthorized reimbursements from the Union.


In April 2002, Spates submitted the Union’s LM-3 financial disclosure form to the U.S. Dept. of Labor.  He claimed to have been paid only $4,834 in 2001, when he allegedly had been paid substantially more.  He also allegedly under-reported the Union’s receipts Read More ➡

Trial of NYC Union Boss Begins

In opening statements on Jan. 14, fed. prosecutors accused Charles Novak and other frmr. officials of Local 1 of the Intl. Union of Elevator Constructors of lining their pockets with the wages of no-show wrkrs.  Novak’s trial on racketeering charges began on the 14th.  “Workers got paid for being in bars, for doing whatever,” said Asst. U.S. Attny. Keir Dougall.  From each no-show paycheck, Dougall said, a percentage went to Novak and more than 2 dozen other Local 1 bosses and members, while contractors received the rest as kickbacks.


Novak and 25 other bosses, members and associates were indicted on Feb. 7, 2002 on charges that they stole more than $6 million in fraudulent wages and benefits at more than 20 construction sites in the NYC area from 1989-2001.  The charges center on the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) entered into by most major N.Y.C. construction Read More ➡

Judge Delays DOL Disclosure Reforms in Election Year

U.S. Dist. Judge Gladys Kessler (D.C., Clinton), on New Year’s Eve, blocked the immediate implementation of the Bush Administration’s union financial disclosure reforms.  Union bosses will now be able to spend membership dues, voluntary and compulsory, on election-year politics without having to account for it, which the new disclosure rules would force them to do.


This is not the first time Judge Kessler has sided with unions in a disclosure case.  In Dec. 2001, she ruled that documents revealing links between the AFL-CIO and Democratic Party during the 1996 campaign must be kept secret.  Kessler acknowledged that her opinion “ends a 25-year practice by the [Fed. Elect. Commn.] to make available to the public the full investigatory record pertaining to any complaint filed once the complaint is resolved.”  Kessler said that she was “compelled by the plain wording” of the Fed. Elect. Campaign Act, which Read More ➡