The election of president of central California’s largest union “has been a cakewalk” for Don Hunsucker for nearly the past two decades, but fellow United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1288 member, Candelaria Arroyo, could change that in this month’s election. Arroyo has blasted Hunsucker and his staff for their lavish expense accounts, but stopped short directly criticizing Hunsucker for his $120,000 a year base salary. Hunsucker has been Local 1288’s boss for 20 years and has run unchallenged in every election since 1981. “There are some people who have been in office for so long that they’ve forgotten about the working people,” Arroyo said. [Fresno Bee 9/7/98]
Boston Bosses Monitored for Unfair Practices
The Service Employees Int’l Union has begun monitoring Boston’s SEIU Local 254 following a hearing last spring on allegations that the Local unfairly represented members. SEIU spokeswoman Jill Gallagher confirmed Sep. 16 that Thomas Balanoff … Read More ➡ “Long-time Boss’ Expenses Questioned in Cal. Election”
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”
Frustrated by over 135 illegal union actions that have continually idled West Coast ports since 1996, the Pacific Maritime Assn. is seeking a court order to prevent dockworkers from violating contract provisions prohibiting strikes and slowdowns. PMA filed suit Sep. 11 in U.S. Dist. Court in L.A. to halt an alarming trend of improper walkouts, demonstrations and stoppages that have cost shippers and consumers tens of millions of dollars.
“Illegal slowdowns, gimmicks and games have become daily fare for the [Int’l] Longshore & Warehouse Union,” the suit states. “[M]illions of dollars are lost each week by the ILWU’s contemptuous behavior.” Named defendants include ILWU, Locals 13 in L.A. and Local 63 in Long Beach. The suit doesn’t seek financial damages. Instead, PMA attorneys want a permanent injunction to force ILWU to comply with existing contracts. The suit cites seven major work stoppages that were deemed illegal by arbitration authorities.
The … Read More ➡ “Union Sued for Illegal Activities”
From Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel’s Sep. 10 editorial: “Unionized longshoremen are making a serious and disruptive mistake by trying to block criminal background checks at Port Everglades. Local 1526 of [ILWU] had ample time to protest specifics of the security measure before it was agreed on, and evidently said during earlier discussions it wouldn’t oppose the checks. Now, late in the process, the union is filing a federal lawsuit. The unacceptable result could well be to enhance and prolong the flow of illegal drugs through the port and into Florida’s streets.
This issue is about cocaine, heroin and marijuana in large quantities being smuggled through the Broward County port. For years, the port has been a sieve and therefore a favorite destination of drug smugglers who bring narcotics here from Colombia, usually with stops in the Caribbean.
One reason for the easy path through Port Everglades has been the disturbing number … Read More ➡ “Union Sues to Block Criminal Background Checks”
General President of the Laborers Int’l Union of North Am., Arthur A. Coia, was accused in a lawsuit filed Aug. 28 in U.S. District Court of helping allies of a corrupt and ousted boss gain an unfair advantage in an upcoming election. Just before LIUNA Local 190 in Albany was to begin filling the vacancy left by ousted business manager Samuel Fresina, a legal battle erupted over allegations that Fresina’s loyalists were attempting to control the outcome. Fresina was forced out last month due to alleged ties to organized crime (see: UCU 1.6 8/24/98).
Carmen Francella, Jr., a candidate for the job, filed the suit seeking the nomination meeting be postponed until late-Sep. The complaint said he was denied membership lists that prevent him from properly campaigning and that he has been personally threatened. The nominations meeting was moved from its longtime location in Albany to LIUNA offices in … Read More ➡ “Coia Accused of Favoritism in Union Election”
Daniel J. Bielat and William P. Yarma settled embezzlement charges Aug. 27 with a federally appointed investigator, leaving Frank H. Ervolino, Buffalo-area union boss, the sole target of a federal investigation. After helping Ervolino run 3 locals, Bielat and Yarmal made agreements that dropped embezzlement charges against them. The investigator, Kurt W. Muellenberg, was appointed under 1995 settlement of racketeering charges against the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union.
Muellenberg will decide by Oct. if he will proceed with charges that the Ervolino family funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars of union funds into their own pockets in 1990-95. Allegedly, Ervolino collected $1.5 million from the unions in salary and pension benefits; his wife collected $529,610 and his daughter $246,018. Sources included unauthorized raises and bonuses, and according to the charges, Ervolino benefited from union-paid insurance policies and entered into deals between the union and businesses run by his … Read More ➡ “Two Turn on Boss, Make Deal to Save Themselves”
Johnie M. Williams, former secretary-treasurer of the Am. Fed’n of Gov’t Employees Local 1199 was arrested Aug. 27 on charges that he embezzled over $72,000 from AFGE. A federal grand jury in Nev. indicted him on 162 counts of embezzlement from AFGE’s bank accounts and 3 counts of filing false financial reports with the Labor Dep’t. The 1993-96 scheme entailed checks written to cash, Williams and personal creditors. [Las Vegas Rev.-J. 8/29/98]
Md. Boss Pleads Guilty to Cover Up
John Mosley, former treasurer of AFGE Local 29 in Clinton, Md., pled guilty Aug. 24 to making false statements to the government to cover up his personal use of union funds. He controlled union finances, conducted all business in cash and maintained virtually no records from 1988 to 1996. He took around $40,000 from union coffers for his own use. Mosley faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. … Read More ➡ “Nevada Boss Indicted for $72K Theft”
Two former union bosses embezzled more than $74,000 from Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Local 1-5476 in Lawndale, Cal. and were incarcerated Sep. 3 after pleading guilty Aug. 24. Former int’l rep. Kevin Geddes and secretary-treasurer Robert Redmerski filed false “lost time” claims for reimbursement. According to the Labor Dep’t, the scheme induced local stewards to file false claims and turn over union reimbursements to Geddes, and Redmerski knowingly approved and paid the false claims. Geddes was sentenced to 3 months in prison, 3 months in a halfway house and 3 years probation and was ordered to obtain substance abuse and psychiatric treatment. Redmerski was sentenced to 6 months in a halfway house and 3 years probation. Fines and restitution of union members’ lost funds were waived in exchange the for guilty pleas, as were conspiracy and extortion charges. [BNA 9/4/98]
Oregon Boss Embezzled $88K
Association of Western Pulp … Read More ➡ “No Restitution for 2 Embezzlers”
Before U.S. West won a tentative agreement with the Communications Workers of America on Aug. 30, the 2-week strike was marred by union violence. On Aug. 21 U.S. District Judge Stephen L. Henriod issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting CWA from threatening and intimidating people entering or leaving U.S. West buildings. The order came after the company submitted a half dozen affidavits of threats and intimidation:
- A contractor was approached at his motel by 3 people, including one who threatened to “take you out if I see you working.” The contractor said the person making the threat had a gun. Police have charged a CWA member with public intoxication and making threats with a gun in the incident.
- Militants at a rally blocked the entrance to a company parking lot.
- A company manager working to maintain service during the strike was struck in the head with a rock. His car
… Read More ➡ “Union Violence in U.S. West Strike”
Asserting rising disgust with their union, nearly 100 KCAL-TV employees in L.A. have decided they no longer want to be represented by the Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers due in part to union corruption. Members petitioned the Nat’l Labor Relations Bd. Aug. 5 requesting Local 45 be removed. The petition was withdrawn, but they are still looking for alternatives. In a complaint letter to Local 45 bosses, members stated their motivation includes “the financial mismanagement of our money” and the strike fund “which we’ve paid into for years, is now non-existent, and no one from IBEW has satisfactorily answered our questions as to where the money has gone.” The corruption reference is to James E. Jackson (see: UCU 1.6 8/24/98), Local 45 business manger, who was recently indicted for allegedly embezzling over $63,000. [Daily Variety 8/25/98]
45 Days & $21K for N.Y. Boss
James T. Russo was sentenced Sept. … Read More ➡ “Members Move to End Local”