Steelworkers Secretary in Ohio Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On March 28, Ronald Coldren, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 207, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to one count of embezzlement in the amount of $30,639 from the Findlay-based union. He had been indicted in November. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Why Are Republican Senators Trying to Protect Mueller?

Sometimes ulterior motives aren’t that hard to figure out. In the case of former FBI Director Robert Mueller, appointed last May as independent special counsel by the Justice Department to probe alleged Russian government meddling in the 2016 presidential election, the end game has become clear: Impeach President Donald Trump. Much of the focus now is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, determined to give Mueller and his staff a vote of confidence. “It would be suicide” for Trump to fire Mueller, noted Sen. Grassley, who, despite objections from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, seeks a committee vote this week on a bill to protect Mueller’s job. Actually, it might be suicidal for Trump not to fire Mueller.

The accusations that certain unnamed Russian officials conspired with Trump and his top campaign aides to steal the 2016 election isn’t going away anytime soon. That’s the way … Read More ➡

Paramedics Union Treasurer in Milwaukee Sentenced for Theft

On March 23, Estes Evans, former treasurer of International Association of EMTs and Paramedics (IAEP) Local R7-33, was sentenced to six months of home confinement and five years of supervised release for embezzling $44,446.86 in funds from the Milwaukee union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 special assessment. Evans had pleaded guilty in December after being charged in June. IAEP is an affiliate of the National Association of Government Employees, itself an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

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BLET Chairman in Illinois Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On March 20, Michael Taylor, ex-general chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) Division 815, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to a one-count information charging him with embezzling $24,868.80 in funds from the Joliet-based union. He’s not the only official in this union with a penchant for theft. Last May former Division 815 secretary-treasurer Thomas Miller pleaded guilty to embezzlement from the union. He would be sentenced in November to two years of probation, and ordered to pay $21,070 in restitution and a $2,000 fine. Each case follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

AFGE Treasurer in Twin Cities Area Pleads Guilty to Theft

On March 16, Latasha Wilson, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 1969, pleaded guilty in Ramsey County (Minn.) District Court to one count of theft by swindle in the sum of more than $35,000 from the Minneapolis-based union. Wilson had been charged last October of stealing $58,150 during January 2013-December 2015. Although Minneapolis is in Hennepin County, she was charged in neighboring Ramsey County, where the offenses occurred. AFGE Local 1969 represents employees at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Indiana SMART Officer Pleads Guilty to Theft; Sentenced

On March 14, Thomas H. Rodgers Jr., former general chairman of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), General Committee of Adjustment 247 pleaded guilty in the Indiana 32nd Judicial Circuit Court, LaPorte County, to theft of funds from the formerly LaPorte-based union in the amount of $3,672.45. he then was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay full restitution. Rodgers had been charged last July following an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

NLRB Restores Coercive Obama-Era Joint Employer Rule; Confusion Remains

For several years unions have been waging a furious battle to force large employers to collectively bargain alongside their contractors and franchisees, even if they have next to nothing to do with workplace operations. Now, once again, the National Labor Relations Board must address the central question: What is an employer? Last December the NLRB reversed its Obama-era ruling in Browning-Ferris Industries that widened the basis for classifying a parent company as a “dual” or “joint” employer. In Hy-Brand, the board, by 3-2, ruled that the old standard must apply. This restoration would be brief. Weeks later, the board, faced with a conflict-of-interest issue, withdrew its decision. For now, organized labor has prevailed. But the fate of the controversy may lie in the courts.

Union Corruption Update visited this deceptively crucial issue in July 2014 and again in September 2015. In each case, the focus was … Read More ➡

Ex-New Jersey UAW Boss Pleads Guilty to Massive Benefit Fraud

Given what he and his partner in crime stole, Sergio Acosta may well be getting off lightly. Last Friday, April 6, Acosta, former president and then representative of the Edison, N.J.-based United Auto Workers Local 2326, pleaded guilty in Trenton federal court to a superseding information count for theft, embezzlement and fund conversion related to a scheme to defraud a union-sponsored health care plan and a Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate out of a combined $6.6 million by recruiting hundreds of ineligible participants. He and Lawrence Ackerman, a New Jersey business executive, had been indicted in January 2017 following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, Acosta, formerly a resident of New Jersey and now a resident of Puerto Rico, used his union positions, including that of benefit fund trustee, to coordinate an elaborate … Read More ➡

#MeToo Congresswoman Esty Gets Hoisted on Her Own Petard

There’s a rich irony to last Monday’s announcement by Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., that she would not seek reelection in the face of revelations that she had averted her eyes from clear evidence of sexual harassment occurring in her own office. For during these past several months, Rep. Esty has been an outspoken supporter of #MeToo, an ad hoc movement that went viral last October in the wake of growing accusations – or revelations, if one will – of harassment against women. While “serves her right” might not be the right response to Esty’s pending departure, it would be difficult to deny she embodies a certain hypocrisy underlying much of political feminism.

The phrase “me too” is a classic expression of group conformity. It’s also the hottest hashtag in America, a war cry of women speaking out against a putative conspiracy of silence on the subject of male-on-female sexual harassment. … Read More ➡

Judge Gives Standing to Shaky ‘Emoluments’ Suit against Trump

As if President Donald Trump isn’t facing enough challenges to his administration’s legitimacy, now he’s got another one. On March 28, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte granted standing to a lawsuit filed last June by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland alleging that the president, by continuing to profit from his Washington, D.C. hotel, is violating the constitutional ban on federal officials receiving gifts from domestic and foreign entities. According to Judge Messitte, his actions are causing “economic harm.” Yet evidence suggests that neither economics nor constitutional principle has much to do with this case.

Public officials in this country from the start have faced the pressure of being “bought and paid for.” Our Framers, recognizing the ever-present temptations of corruption, created safeguards to bar office holders from receiving presents, or “emoluments,” from outside parties. Article I, Section 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution, for example, … Read More ➡