Supreme Court Considers Second Mark Janus Suit to Recover Dues

Mark Janus is seeking to complete his mission. And the U.S. Supreme Court soon will let him and other dissenting public-sector union members know where they stand. Two weeks from now, on June 18, the High Court will decide whether to grant legal standing to a petition by Janus, a former Illinois state employee, to recover dues payments dating back several years collected by an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Two years earlier the Court concluded that a government employee union cannot deduct partial dues (“agency fees”) from a nonmember paycheck without the affirmative consent of the employee. A grant of certiorari could open the door to similar nonmember actions, including a class action suit in Minnesota seeking a $19 million refund on behalf of about 8,000 employees.  

Until the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, state and … Read More ➡

AFSCME Local President in Wisconsin Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

On May 22, Linda Woodford, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 727D, pleaded guilty in Dunn County (Wisconsin) Circuit Court to one count of misdemeanor theft from the Menomonie-based union. She then was sentenced to five days in jail, one year of probation, and 50 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $453 in court costs. She previously had paid full restitution in the amount of $4,065. Woodford had been charged last June following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Roofers Secretary in Oklahoma Charged with Embezzlement

On March 24, Tammy McBride, former administrative assistant for United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers Local 143, was charged in Oklahoma County District Court with one count of embezzlement of funds from the Oklahoma City-based union in the sum of $13,868. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Oklahoma City local police.

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Columbus, Ohio Transit Union Probed for $300K+ in Thefts

Transport Workers Union Local 208 is now in receivership. There are good reasons for that. For the last half-year, the Columbus, Ohio union has been investigated by the FBI and local police in the wake of an internal audit revealing the loss of nearly $350,000 from its coffers over a half-decade. The likely culprit, an unnamed female who had been secretary-treasurer, has resigned. Local 208 represents about 860 bus drivers and other employees of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). “There is no place in the TWU for officials who abuse their power and the trust of membership,” said International Union President John Samuelsen last November after news of the thefts broke. As of late May, no criminal charges have been filed.

The identity of the person who apparently ripped off TWU Local 208 has not been made public. But one thing is certain: Nearly $350,000 is gone. Last fall, … Read More ➡

Ex-Indianapolis Teachers Union President Sentenced for Embezzlement

Rhondalyn Cornett had ways of supplementing her income at the expense of the school teachers she represented. Unfortunately, those ways were illegal. Earlier today, Cornett, former president of the Indianapolis Education Association (IEA), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to 16 months in prison, to be followed by two years of probation, for embezzling more than $154,000 from the IEA over a four-year period. She had been charged last July, pleading guilty immediately thereafter. The actions follow a joint probe by the FBI, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the Indianapolis metro police.

Cornett, now 55, a resident of Indianapolis and a longtime teacher herself, during November 2013-November 2018 served as president of the Indianapolis Education Association, an affiliate of the Indiana State Teachers Association and the National Education Association. For the last four of … Read More ➡

Georgia Letter Carriers Secretary Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

On May 12, Janet Pilcher, former secretary-treasurer of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 536, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to embezzling $65,033 in funds from the Rome, Ga.-based union. She had been indicted in February. The charge and plea follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  … Read More ➡

AFSCME Puts Corrupt Hawaii Local in Trusteeship; Removes State Director

Hawaii’s United Public Workers has entered a new era. And it isn’t the kind its leaders were counting on. On May 1, Lee Saunders, president of the union’s parent organization, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, placed the local under trusteeship. The previous day, AFSCME trial officers had removed UPW Hawaii State Director Dayton Nakanelua and Fiscal & Membership Services Administrator Jeanne Endo from their posts. Back in mid-February, an AFSCME audit had concluded that officials of the 13,000-member UPW had been spending large sums for unauthorized purposes. “It is my responsibility to ensure that our union is run with transparency and integrity at every level – and to take action when an emergency exists,” said Saunders.

The Honolulu-based United Public Workers, also known as AFSCME Local 646, as Union Corruption Update noted a couple of weeks ago, has a history of corruption. Back in … Read More ➡

IBEW Business Manager in Pennsylvania Sentenced for Benefit Fraud

Melvin Fishburn couldn’t delay the inevitable forever. Belatedly, he is going away for a while. On March 5, Fishburn, former business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 743 and a trustee of the pension plan of the Reading, Pa.-based union, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to 15 months in prison plus three years of supervised release for stealing funds from the plan. He also was ordered to pay $81,413 in restitution and an $800 special assessment. He had pleaded guilty last July to four counts each of embezzlement and wire fraud. The actions follow an investigation by Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and the Employee Benefit Security Administration.

According to prosecutors, Fishburn, now 57, a resident of Charleston, S.C., during July 2010-June 2014 concocted an elaborate scheme to divert retirement plan assets to his own personal use. He created a … Read More ➡

Fire Fighters Union Boss Schaitberger Accused of Skimming $6M

Harold Schaitberger (in photo), longtime head of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), has a reputation for wielding unchallenged power. But that power soon may dissipate in the wake of a memo prepared by the union’s number-two man. On March 20, IAFF Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly circulated a 105-page internal memorandum accusing Schaitberger and Kelly predecessor Thomas Miller of misusing or outright stealing about $6 million in union funds, especially pension assets. The memo, which followed an outside audit, also accuses Schaitberger of concealing these losses from the union executive board. Schaitberger disputes the charges, calling them “reckless and destructive.” But the IRS, the Department of Labor and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are conducting a probe that may conclude otherwise.

The International Association of Fire Fighters, which represents more than 300,000 firefighters in the U.S. and Canada, is a very influential public-sector union. And Harold Schaitberger is a big reason … Read More ➡

AFSCME Audit of Hawaii Affiliate Reveals Suspicious Spending

The reputation of United Public Workers, never all that favorable, has taken another hit. This February, an internal audit prepared by the parent union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), concluded that officials of the 13,000-member Hawaii affiliate spent more than $300,000 (and possibly a good deal more) on unauthorized or suspect purposes over two and half years. The 25-page report, a copy of which was obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, stated: “There does not appear to be meaningful oversight on how funds are spent and accounted for, and…the opportunity for abuse of misuse of union funds exists as a result.” The audit did not accuse anyone of criminal wrongdoing. Union officials have vowed to meet AFSCME transparency standards.   

Hawaii has been the site of an unusual number of recent union corruption cases in federal court. Raymond Fujii, former head of a contractors’ … Read More ➡