Boehner: Reform Labor Law; Boss: Reform Unneeded

Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) held a oversight hearing Jul. 21 to probe the murky world of the scandal-scarred Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union. It was the House Employer-Employee Relations Subcommittee’s seventh hearing on the lack of democracy in America’s unions. HERE — where U.S. Dist. Court-appointed monitor Kurt W. Muellenberg issued a shocking Report documenting years of financial mismanagement, fraud, cronyism, nepotism, inadequate internal controls and undemocratic processes — demonstrates “a pattern where the rights of…union members granted by [the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959] are not being adequately enforced,” Boehner said.

Boehner added, “Incredibly, [HERE], which takes in about $30 million a year…’traditionally operated without some absolute basics. There is no budget, no organizational chart, no job descriptions for employees, and no policy manual.’ [Ex-]President Edward Hanley negotiated an immunity agreement with the [Dep’t] of Justice and agreed to step down. He is allowed, however, to keep for … Read More ➡

Rabbi Blasts California Local for Misrepresentation

The following letter-to-the-editor by Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D., appeared in the Jul. 26, 1999 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

“I am a supporter of members of Local 11 of [HERE] in their desire to negotiate a contract with [the Univ. of So. Cal.]… Even so I was shocked…to read that I was supposedly to be the keynote speaker at a demonstration calling on USC supporters to halt their donations to USC.

I was all the more upset by the inference that since I am vice-president of the [So. Cal.] Board of Rabbis, the board has endorsed this call for action against USC. No such decision has ever been taken by the board, and as its social action chair I am certain that no such action has ever even been contemplated.

Such a strategy is contrary to my convictions regarding how best to influence institutions… I believe that the … Read More ➡

New York Union Sues Ex-Boss for $62,000

The N.Y. Public Employees Fed. filed suit Jul. 15 against its ex-president, charging that he and five other bosses embezzled nearly $63,000. PEF president Robert Benson and secretary-treasurer Jane Hallum filed the suit in U.S. Dist. Court in Albany saying that the ex-bosses violated the Landrum-Griffin Act and are seeking reimbursement for the allegedly unauthorized payments.

The suit says ex-president James Sheedy ordered checks totaling $62,900 to cover years of allegedly bogus sick leave. The alleged distribution was Sheedy, $4,796; ex-secretary-treasurer Patricia Ford, $14,611; ex-vice-presidents Philip DelPiano, Margaret Litzenberger and Kenneth Robertson $5,911, $8,166 and $22,627, respectively; and ex-aide Robert Walsh, $4,487. [Times Union 7/17/99]… Read More ➡

California Bosses’ Tiny Fines Upheld

The Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters’ Independent Review Board’s fine of a top boss for breach of the IBT constitution has been affirmed by the U.S. Dist. Judge David N. Edelstein who oversees the 1989 consent decree between IBT and the Dep’t of Justice. On Jul. 12, Edelstein ordered James Santangelo, an IBT western region int’l vice-president, to pay a petty $2,000 fine for failing to uphold his fiduciary duties as secretary-treasurer of IBT Local 848 in Los Angeles. Local 848 president Richard Middleton must pay a $1,000 fine and the local must institute certain educational and financial controls to ensure its bosses fully understand and carry out their fiduciary duties.

The court-appointed IRB investigated allegations that Santangelo and Middleton had created a severance payment plan and made payments to themselves and others from the plan in violation of Local 848’s bylaws. After a ridiculously long administrative process, IRB held a … Read More ➡

Ex-Carey Aide Running for Mississippi House

It’s rare to find a union boss running in a Republican primary. But Aaron Belk, expelled-IBT president Ron Carey’s exec. assistant and an ex-IBT vice-president, is spouting conservative themes for the Aug. 3 Republican primary for Miss. House Dist. 25. He hopes to face ex-Clarksdale mayor, John Mayo (D) in the general election.

“I’m not your normal union person, I suppose,” said Belk, who is calling for lower taxes. “It’s not going to be done by electing lawyers. We’ve got to elect practical people.” [Commercial Appeal 7/22/99]

Belk was in the middle of the money-laundering scandal that ruined Carey. Belk rejected a $475,000 contribution to the liberal Citizen Action. The contribution eventually went through reportedly due to the table-pounding of then-IBT attorney Judy Scott, whose cauldron now simmers at the Service Employees Int’l Union. Of that money, $110,000 found its way back to Carey’s reelection campaign.… Read More ➡

Nevada Boss Guilty of Embezzlement

Since 1997, ex-Nev. teachers union boss Steve Confer has denied allegations he embezzled over $53,000 while treasurer of an Ind. teachers union. On Jul. 26, his story changed.

Confer pled guilty to one count of embezzlement in U.S. Dist. Court in Fort Wayne, Ind., after reaching an agreement with the U.S. Atty. For the plea, prosecutors dropped the remaining 19 embezzlement counts and will recommend leniency at sentencing.

Confer allegedly embezzled over $53,000 in 1994-96 while treasurer of the Professional Service Org. of the Ind. State Teachers Ass’n. He moved to Las Vegas in 1996, becoming exec. director of the Clark County Edu. Ass’n — the second largest Nat. Edu. Ass’n chapter. He resigned in 1998. He allegedly wrote himself $45,300 in checks and charged $7,800 on the union’s credit card for personal purposes. PSO sought to recover the funds. Reportedly, Confer settled by repaying the disputed amount in a … Read More ➡

Corrupt Unions Stuff Democratic Coffers

In the latest soft money reports, several of America’s most corrupt unions made huge payments to Democratic Party committees, according to Public Disclosure, Inc. United Bhd. of Carpenters gave $100,000 to the Dem. Cong. Camp. Committee on Jun. 30. The Longshoremen gave $100,000 to DCCC on Jun. 29. Laborers’ Int’l Union of No. Am. and the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union both gave $50,000 to the DCCC on Jun. 21 and Jun. 30, respectively. The Longshoremen, LIUNA and HERE were cited for corruption by the 1986 President Reagan Commission on Organized Crime and have been under close scrutiny ever since. UBC has suffered corruption scandals in N.Y. and elsewhere.

Further, Am. Fed. of Teachers gave the DCCC $75,000 on Jun. 18 and $1,000 on Jun. 21. AFT gave the Dem. Sen. Camp. Committee $25,000 on Jun. 28. Communications Workers of Am. gave DSCC $50,000 on Jun. 9. The … Read More ➡

Massachusetts Court Holds Unions Must Conduct Audits

In a resounding victory for workers rights, a requirement that unions provide audited financial statements to nonmembers before demanding payment of agency fees was upheld by the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court in a Jul. 15 ruling. The unanimous ruling rejected the arguments of three Mass. Teachers Ass’n affiliates that small unions should be excused from the financial burden of conducting independent audits. “We see no basis for modifying the United States Supreme Court’s express requirement that a union must accompany any demand for agency fees with an independently audited verification of its major expenses,” the opinion by Justice Neil L. Lynch stated.

The case involved the Fairhaven Edu. Ass’n — which had an annual income of $29,000 and represented 185 employees, of whom seven were nonmembers — the Bridgewater Edu. Ass’n — which had an annual income of $17,900 and represented 116 employees including two nonmembers — and the Wareham … Read More ➡

New York Union to Appeal Indictment to Supreme Court

The Newspaper & Mail Deliverers Union of N.Y., will appeal a seven-year-old racketeering indictment to the U.S. Supreme Court. The prolonged case was filed in 1992 by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau, who charged the union with making deals with the Bonanno and Luchese crime families.  “We are filing an application for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court,” said NMDU attorney J. Kenneth O’Connor. “They don’t hear that many cases, but this is an interesting one. What is the criminal liability of a trade union? How do you find criminal liability where some of the members may have been engaged in criminality?” Where is this guy coming from? Expect cert. to be denied. [Daily News 7/26/99]

Tennessee Bosses Suspended after Fistfight with Manager
Willis Hall and Dale Atkin, business manager and steward, respectively, of Laborers’ Int’l Union of No. Am. Local 818 in Knoxville, were “de-badged” or … Read More ➡

Tennessee Bosses Suspended after Fistfight with Manager

Five U.S. House committee chairmen blasted the Dep’t of Justice Jul. 15 for thwarting Congressional investigations and looked for new tools to strengthen future probes. In testimony to the House Rules Committee, the chairmen directed most of their criticism at Atty. Gen. Janet Reno. House Gov’t Reform Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) led the charge accusing Reno of “corruption” by dodging or blocking his requests for information.

The most specific reform suggestions came from Education & Workforce Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) who complained that his probe of the Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters was “substantially limited” by DOJ. Hoekstra proposed a new rule to give oversight committees subpoena power
they now can acquire only by a vote of the full House. He also suggested the House should entertain giving itself the power to pursue contempt of Congress charges in court; currently, the House refers contempt actions to the … Read More ➡