NYC-Area Longshoremen Boss Arrested for Shaking Down Employer

When Glenn Blicht talked about “tickets,” it wasn’t about a concert or a ball game. At least one businessman who had dealings with him learned the hard way. Last Friday, July 26, Blicht, president of Local 164 of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), was arrested and then charged in Manhattan federal court with one count each of honest services fraud and receipt of bribes from an unnamed employer in return for a promise to back away from filing union arbitration complaints against the company. Following his arraignment, he was released on a $100,000 bond. He’s due back in court on August 26. The employer already has pleaded guilty. The arrest follows an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General.

Glenn Blicht, now 57, a resident of Wilton, Conn., has served as an officer of the Ridgefield Park (Bergen County), N.J.-based ILA Local 164 in … Read More ➡

Mob-Linked Union Boss in Chicago Sentenced for Theft

John Matassa Jr. says he’s being sentenced for his reputation, not his deeds. Evidence points toward the latter. Last Monday, July 22, Matassa, former secretary-treasurer of Independent Union of Amalgamated Workers Local 711, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to six months in prison plus six months of home confinement for embezzling funds from the Chicago-area union related to putting his wife on the union payroll for a no-show job. He had been indicted in May 2017 on 10 counts of embezzlement, fraud and other offenses, pleading guilty to a reduced embezzlement charge this February. The actions follow a probe by the Social Security Administration and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

As Union Corruption Update has reported more than once (for example, here and here), John “Pudgy” Matassa, now in his late-60s, a resident of Arlington … Read More ➡

‘Safe Spaces’: Workplace Radicalism with a Corporate Logo

U.S. Bank isn’t just about banking. And Greg Cunningham wants everyone to know that. Cunningham, vice president of diversity and inclusion at the Minneapolis-based institution, is busy traversing the nation, coaxing bank employees to confront their inner racism, sexism and other attitudes that get in the way of a harmonious workplace. “Transforming a culture of 67,000 people is never easy,” he says. “You have to make sure that everyone knows that there is something in this for them.”

There is a growing trend in this country of corporations creating on-premises ‘safe spaces’ for employees presumably at risk of harassment by managers and peers. Advocates say the practice fosters teamwork and hence boosts profits. Don’t believe them. Under the guise of addressing a workplace morale crisis, such ‘spaces’ actually create rather than resolve employee divisiveness. It’s a variation on that national behavior modification program known as “diversity,” which has nothing to … Read More ➡

Maryland HVAC Contractor Sentenced in Virginia for Fraud, Theft

On July 12, Howard Janoske, co-owner of an HVAC and plumbing company in Maryland, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to six months of home confinement and two years of supervised probation for his role in a conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, theft and embezzlement over a three-year period. He also was ordered to pay restitution in the sum of $23,367, pay a fine of $25,000 and forfeit $92,432 in assets. Janoske had pleaded guilty in March. The actions follow a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

As Union Corruption Update had reported, Janoske and a business agent of a large, unnamed Herndon, Va.-based union had entered into an illegal play-for-pay arrangement. Through his company, Janoske from about mid-2012 until mid-2015 paid the official tens of thousands of dollars for personal home … Read More ➡

Hawaii Laborers Business Manager Charged with Embezzlement

An ample salary wasn’t enough for Rodney Capello. On July 15, Capello, former business manager and secretary-treasurer of Hawaii Electrical Workers Division of Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 722, was charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii with embezzling nearly $200,000 in funds from the Honolulu-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.

Capello’s annual salary in recent years had exceeded $200,000. But he wanted more, and apparently didn’t have to look far to find it. According to prosecutors, Capello, from around February 2013 to around March 2016, “did knowingly embezzle and convert to his own use monies and funds of the Union in the approximate amount of $184,771.98.” As such, prosecutors plan to seek restitution of defendant assets in the event of a conviction. The union since has been placed under trusteeship by LIUNA headquarters … Read More ➡

Security and Fire Professionals President in Detroit Pleads Guilty

On July 19, Esper Alexander, former president of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America Local 1111, pleaded guilty in Wayne County (Michigan) District Court to one count of larceny by conversion of funds from the Detroit-based union in a sum of at least $200 but less than $1,000. The plea follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Rep. Rashida Tlaib Is a National Security Risk

Lost amid the uproar over President Trump’s rebuke of four radical “women of color” in the House of Representatives is the possibility that he was entirely justified. For months, these freshmen lawmakers, hyped by the media, have used their office to undermine enforcement of our nation’s laws, especially those related to immigration, labeling anyone who disagrees with them as a “racist.” One of these pugilists, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., stands out as an especially nasty piece of work.

A lawyer by training, Tlaib, born in 1976, occupies the Detroit-area congressional seat held for decades by John Conyers. Like the other three members of her vapid, publicity-hungry “squad” – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) – she makes no secret of her loathing for America’s identity and laws. Indeed, as a Muslim born to Palestinian parents, Tlaib proudly identifies with their foreign identity. “I’m more Palestinian … Read More ➡

NYC Carpenters Officials Charged in Union Admissions Bribery Scheme

If you wanted to get into the union, Salvatore Tagliaferro or John Defalco could help you for a price. It appears now that the two will pay more than they collected. On June 27, Tagliaferro and Defalco, respectively, president of Local 926 (Brooklyn) and vice president of Local 157 (Manhattan) of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, were arrested and indicted in Manhattan federal court on various charges related to their roles in a scheme to solicit and receive cash bribes in return for admission to the union for aspiring members. The defendants allegedly generated tens of thousands of dollars for themselves in this manner. The charges follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the New York City Department of Investigation.

According to charging documents, Salvatore “Sal” Tagliaferro, now 54, a resident of Staten Island, N.Y., and John … Read More ➡

Letter Carriers President in Michigan Charged with Embezzlement

On June 19, Kelly Carter, former president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 560, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on one count of embezzling $7,130 in funds from the Benton Harbor union. The charge follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General.… Read More ➡

NLRB General Counsel Rules on Behalf of Harassed Workers

Pressuring employees into giving a union permission to deduct dues from paychecks is a common practice. This “dues checkoff,” however, soon may become uncommon. On July 12, the National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the General Counsel, in separate cases, announced that it had ruled on behalf of two workers who refused to sign dues authorization forms as a condition of employment. The employees, Kacy Warner, a Kansas City-area nurse, and Shelby Krocker, a West Virginia supermarket employee, each experienced union retaliation. Their cases previously had been dismissed by an NLRB regional office. The West Virginia case is especially disturbing because the legislature in that state a few years ago enacted a Right to Work law barring unions from exacting such payments.

Kacy Warner is a nurse at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri who was dissatisfied with the representation that she and fellow employees had been getting from … Read More ➡