An audit of the Kentucky AFL-CIO sparked by member union complaints of corruption has turned the Ky. AFL-CIO upside down: so much so that it had to cancel its state convention last week. Notice of the national AFL-CIO’s audit arrived in Frankfort on Sep. 15. That day, Donna Bayless, the Ky. AFL-CIO’s bookkeeper at the center of the corruption allegations, was reported missing. She was found dead Sep. 19, an apparent suicide. She was found in a secluded wooded area owned by her family. Police said Bayless died of a single gunshot wound in the side of her head and a pistol was found near her body.
Police are investigating an Aug. break-in at the Ky. AFL-CIO HQ in which records were stolen and a Sep. 4 fire. The fire did minimal damage but destroyed union records and is considered an arson. Bayless disappeared the same day police went to … Read More ➡ “One Dead, Documents Stolen & Destroyed in Kentucky Probe”
Kentucky Democratic Gov. Paul Patton’s two top aides and two Teamsters bosses were indicted on charges of violating campaign finance laws in Patton’s 1995 election. The special grand jury indictments were unsealed Sep. 24 by a Ky. Supreme Court order. The named were: Skipper Martin, Patton’s chief of staff and 1995 campaign manager; Danny Ross, Patton’s labor liaison who ran a pro-Patton campaign for the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO between stints on Patton’s state payroll; Lon Fields, president of Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, where Ross ran the campaign; and Robert Winstead, secretary-treasurer of Local 89 and recording secretary of the Teamsters’ state council, through which the national union paid for Ross’ campaign work. The four’s lawyers denied their clients broke the law.
Patton has denied wrongdoing, and in an act of defiance, he said that Martin and Ross would keep their state jobs, saying they were “vital to the … Read More ➡ “Kentucky Governor Linked to Union Indictments”
The lawyer who represented the disgraced and expelled Teamsters President Ron Carey in his 1996 reelection pled guilty Oct. 1 to one count of conspiracy for making false statements to a court-appointed officer. It’s the fifth guilty plea, with one indictment, in the money-laundering scheme which funneled over $538,000 into Carey’s campaign. Nathaniel Charney, of the labor law firm of Cohen, Weiss & Simon, admitted in U.S. Dist. Court in Manhattan to lying to former election officer Barbara Zack Quindel about contributions and to concealing that two employers had sent his law firm checks for the Carey campaign. It’s illegal for employers to contribute to union candidates. Reportedly, Charney vetted contributions to a special fund that took donations from non-Teamsters. He faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He acknowledged in court that he is cooperating with prosecutors, which implies that more indictments are likely. [N.Y. Times… Read More ➡ “Fifth, Charney, Pleads Guilty in Teamsters Scandal”
A former Local 478 Teamsters boss in Newark, N.J. was sentenced Sep. 22 to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $25,000 restitution for embezzling more than $30,000 from the union. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Joan Pribelzsky embezzled from the union’s general operating account and made false entries into the union’s books to disguise the thefts. She pled guilty May 1 to both charges. In Jun. 1994, Pribelzsky, without authorization, applied for a credit card under the union’s name and went on an 18-month shopping spree charging about $20,000 at places like Disney World, Victoria’s Secret and on the QVC channel, according court records. Pribelszky removed her charges from monthly statements so the union saw only their charges. She then had checks made out for false expenditures that she used to pay her credit card charges. She also stole $10,000 in cash of which $5,000 covered pending bankruptcy … Read More ➡ “Boss Sentenced for Embezzlement”
Detailed charges against Charles Hughes, a prominent N.Y. City union boss who was expelled on Jun 26., were released Sep. 18. The Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees has long refused to release the sealed report, but a union official upset about corruption at AFSCME Dist. Council 37 leaked it just recently. AFSCME accused the 30-year boss of embezzling $1.7 million union members. Hughes’ conduct was described as “a vigorous effort to plunder his union’s coffers.” Experts told the N.Y. Times that the findings document one of the worst cases of union embezzlement in years. No criminal charges have been brought, but the Dist. Attorney’s office is investigating.
The panel harshly condemned Hughes for claiming 1,820 hours of overtime a year (35 hours a week) in every year from 1993-97 for which he was owed more than $300,000. His salary was $224,000, while most of his local’s members … Read More ➡ “Report Released on Corrupt New York Boss”
The Wash. Post reported that a coalition of unions and liberal activists are planning to raise several million dollars to be spent on ads supporting President Clinton and accusing Republicans mishandling the probe at the “expense” of other issues. The liberal People for the American Way has plans for an aggressive air campaign attacking Republicans by focusing on Republican “overreaching.” Other interest groups, including the AFL-CIO, are reportedly interested in sponsoring a campaign of strengthening Clinton in his battle to remain in office. [Wash. Post 9/29/98]
“This place is a cesspool of corruption. We’re trying to save the union before the District Attorney marches in and people get the wrong impression about the union, and everyone is branded a crook.”
-Mark Rosenthal, a dissident leader in AFSCME Dist. Council 37 in N.Y. City [N.Y. Times 9/21/98].… Read More ➡ “Bosses & Liberals Team-Up Again”
In the ongoing Congressional probe of the tainted 1996 Teamsters election, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) is exploring claims that U.S. Labor Dep’t officials agreed to take action on the union’s behalf in return for its support for President Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign. Hoekstra, Chairman of Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee of the Workforce Committee, has asked DOL Sep. 18 for documents relating to a Mar. 1995 meeting that he says was attended by Harold M. Ickes, former deputy chief of staff at the White House; Thomas Glynn, former deputy secretary of DOL; Steve Rosenthal, former associate deputy secretary of DOL; Ron Carey, disgraced former president of the Teamsters; and William Hamilton, disgraced former government affairs director of the union. This request follows Attorney General Janet Reno’s announcement that she has opened a 90-day preliminary investigation into allegations that Ickes lied in Senate testimony last year about his efforts to help the … Read More ➡ “Hoekstra Turns Probe to DOL”
Rep. Harris W. Fawell (R-Ill.) announced Sep. 24 that he will introduce legislation to amend the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act prior to the adjournment of Congress next month. Fawell, Chairman of the Employer-Employee Relations Subcommittee of the Workforce Committee, said during the latest in a series of hearings on “impediments to union democracy” that he has come to the conclusion that the “goals” of the 1959 law, also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, “are not always reached.” The proposed legislation that is largely based on the recommendations of two leading experts on union democracy, Prof. Clyde Summers of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Herman Benson, founder of the Association for Union Democracy, who both testified at earlier hearings of the subcommittee. Fawell’s announcement came as he opened a hearing into charges that the rights of members of the approximately 200-member American Radio Association are being violated. … Read More ➡ “Fawell Press Ahead with Reform Legislation”
U.S. Dist. Judge Royce Lamberth ruled Oct. 1 that the Communications Workers of America failed to inform about 50,000 affiliated workers that they didn’t have to pay full dues. Workers who pay a fee to the union for collective bargaining representation but don’t become full union members were awarded damages in the class-action suit sponsored by the National Right to Work Foundation. Any of the workers who didn’t want to pay for work the union did outside of collective bargaining, such as political advocacy, from 1987-95 can request reimbursement for a portion of their dues. A NRTW foundation spokesman Stefan Gleason called Lamberth’s ruling a “monumental decision on behalf of workers across the country. Not only will it allow these abused workers to exercise their rights not to pay for union activities that they object to in the future, but it will also allow them to be reimbursed for the … Read More ➡ “Workers Win Dues Ruling”
A contract employee for the U.S. Labor Dep’t and a co-conspirator embezzled over $500,000 from DOL’s Division of Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation. Jennifer M. Spraitz and Rachel Lea Gratton pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and theft from a federal program. The Division administers compensation benefits, medical payments and vocational rehabilitation services to injured workers and is funded by the federal government and private employers. Spraitz created false vocational rehabilitation counselor invoices, making up the names of allegedly injured workers who were supposedly receiving services she listed on the invoices. Spraitz used Gratton’s name as the fictitious rehabilitation counselor on the invoices and listed addresses that were under their control. From Oct. 1993 to Nov. 1997, Spraitz submitted 150 fraudulent invoices which generated government checks totaling $524,722. Spraitz retrieved the checks for Gratton who then returned personal checks for half the amount to Spraitz. Both used the … Read More ➡ “$500K Embezzled from Workers’ Compensation Fund”