Chicago’s Local 2 In “Emergency” Trusteeship

Laborers Int’l Union of No. Am. Local 2 in Chicago was placed under an “emergency” trusteeship May 24 by the union’s “internal reform effort” and its ethically challenged “in-house prosecutor” Robert D. Luskin. The action means that LIUNA will replace the local’s elected leaders with hand-picked successors. A cited reason for the impatient action was the May 12 expulsion of Local 2 boss John Matassa for alleged mob ties. Local 2 and Matassa became Luskin latest cause célèbre on Apr. 23 when he began the slower process of filing for a nonemergency trusteeship. Curiously, despite the rush to justice, Matassa wasn’t cited in the Dep’t of Justice’s 1994 draft racketeering complaint against LIUNA even though Matassa ran Local 2 since the mid-1980s.

Luskin’s track record in Chicago is mixed at best. When LIUNA’s “internal reform effort” began in 1995, one of the first orders of business was to oust LIUNA … Read More ➡

Massachusetts Boss Gets 3 Months for Theft

William Ciepiela, ex-boss of the United Ass’n of Journeymen of the Plumbing & Pipe Fitting Indus. Local 151 in Pittsfield, Mass., was sentenced May 26 to three months in prison and three months of home detention for embezzling $92,000 from union member pensions, according U.S. Atty. Donald K. Stern’s statement. Ciepiela was ordered to pay restitution but was not fined. He pled guilty in Feb. and had faced ten years and a $500,000 fine. The boss transferred money from the union’s two ERISA plans to a general fund monthly from Jul. 1993-Dec. 1994. He then wrote checks to himself from the general fund. Stern said, “It is essential to protect workers’ health plans and retirement plans from abuse by those entrusted with administering them. Workers are entitled to expect that the funds, deposited on their behalf, will be available when needed.”… Read More ➡

Reformers Defeated in Chicago

On May 28, the incumbent slate won all elected offices in the scandal-scarred Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union Local 1 in Chicago. It was the first vote in 16 years for the leadership of Local 1. Incumbent boss Terry Maloney won 1,895 votes to reformers James Michalik’s 1,180 and Ramon Mursuli’s 55. A 1998 report by the HERE’s court-appointed monitor found a history of union corruption and suggested that Local 1 should have been placed under a trusteeship years ago. Last Aug., Local 1’s previous boss, Thomas Hanley, was banned from holding any union office for a year. He was also forced to pay a $25,000 fine based on charges he embezzled funds from the union and breached his fiduciary duties. His father, Edward Hanley, was HERE’s top boss and swung a controversial immunity deal with the Dep’t of Justice to avoid civil and criminal prosecution.

Maloney called … Read More ➡

New York Election Nears, Accusations Fly

An alleged $40,000 payment to a former secretary at the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Ass’n in N.Y.C. has become the focus of heated accusations among candidates vying for control of the police union. The two slates challenging PBA president James “Doc” Savage and his regime called for an investigation into the payment, which they claim was made without informing PBA’s membership. Timothy Nickels, who is running for PBA treasurer on an opposition slate said he conducted his own audit of PBA’s books and came across the $40,000 payment made in 1996 to “EJCK.” The initials correspond to a secretary who spent 20 years working for the PBA and who resigned while Savage was first vice president. “Who is EJCK and why was EJCK paid $40,000?” Nickels asked.

Insiders say the money was a buyout of the woman’s contract. She had been an assistant to ex-PBA boss Phil Caruso. She has retained attorneys, … Read More ➡

California Local Fined Worker Improperly

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held May 26 that the right of unions to handle internal affairs does not include the power to fine a member who is required by a collective bargaining agreement to report to management the misconduct of fellow employees. The court upheld a Nat. Labor Relations Board order against Teamsters Local 439 in Stockton, Cal., that resulted from a $500 fine imposed against janitor Luis Rojas who informed his supervisor that two female employees had taken an unauthorized break in a storage closet. The women were disciplined. Rojas would have faced demotion if he failed to report the infraction. But, a Teamsters boss filed union charges against Rojas, asserting that he had violated union provisions forbidding a member from knowingly harming fellow Teamsters. In Dec. 1995, the union executive board fined Rojas $500. [BNA 5/28/99]… Read More ➡

Boss Pleads Guilty to $237,000 Kickback Scheme

According U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern’s statement, ex-Nat. Maritime Union Employee Pension & Welfare Plan boss Nicholas LaForgia pled guilty May 26 to receiving $237,000 in kickbacks — including airline tickets, electronic equipment, jewelry and liquor — in exchange for referring members to the Northeast Maritime Inst. in New Bedford Mass. for training mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard. LaForgia was responsible for where and when members receive training. According the statement, LaForgia contacted the school and arranged for NMU members to attend classes in 1996. LaForgia then demanded the school purchase items for him. In Nov. 1998, the school said it would stop purchasing the items, he then cancelled previously scheduled classes and ceased sending members to the school. He faces three years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and a restitution order.… Read More ➡

Top Boss Faces Recall Vote

A union vote to recall Bhd. of Locomotive Engineers’ president Clarence Monin began May 28. The recall election was required by BLE’s constitution after receiving recall petitions from divisions representing approximately 34 percent of the membership. The petition was initiated by Division 782 in Tenn. which listed 28 reasons for recalling the top boss, including abuse of power and withholding information about a proposed merger with the United Trans. Union from BLE’s advisory board and the membership and allegations of financial mismanagement of the union. BLE is reportedly in financial trouble; the union operated in the red in 30 of the past 34 months. Monin sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the mailing of the ballots. However, the request was denied May 20 by U.S. District Judge Ann Aldrich. The results of the recall will be known in Aug. 1999.

Talks over a possible merger between BLE and UTU … Read More ➡

Two More Guilty Pleas in New York’s DC37

Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees’ Dist. Council 37 suffered two more guilty pleas from Local 1549 bosses Robert F. Myers, on May 26, and James Edey, on Jun. 2. Now six AFSCME bosses have pled guilty to union corruption and nine have been indicted.

Myers pled guilty to using the union’s credit card for personal expenditures that he never repaid and stole over $50,000 in personal “hospitality money.” Myers made nearly $200,000 for being the treasurer of Local 1549 and DC37 and is the highest ranking DC37 boss to plead guilty to date. He was a close associate of the indicted and expelled top boss Albert A. Diop. Edey pled guilty to similar charges. Both were ousted from AFSCME in Apr. after the union’s judicial panel found that Myers received $134,100 in unexplained “hospitality expenses.” The panel also found that Edey received $63,925 and charged $143,819 on … Read More ➡

Florida Local Fights DC79, Withholds $50,000 in Dues

AFSCME Local 532 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. has gone to war against AFSCME Dist. Council 79. Since Sep. 1998, Local 532 has refused to pay its monthly dues to the statewide DC79. At $11.65 per month for each of the 500 members, the total owed is about $50,000. DC79 suspended Local 532 in Jan., and the national AFSCME in Washington warned that the local could be placed in administratorship.

Local 532 boss Catherine Dunn claims that DC79 isn’t providing the required services in return for the dues. For several years Local 532 has handled its own copying and mailing costs, settled its own employee grievances, negotiated its own contracts and paid for its own office space. Local 532 is holding the $50,000 in escrow until changes are made. “What we’re trying to do is get somebody’s attention,” Dunn said. DC79 has refused to respond.

Other AFSCME locals in So. Fla. … Read More ➡

Milwaukee Organizer Charged with Theft

In an effort to unionize hospital employees, a Service Employees Int’l Union organizer, Theodore D. Kraig, apparently stole a binder containing personnel information from Beloit (Wis.) Mem. Hospital. Kraig of SEIU Local 150 in Milwaukee was charged May 6 on one count of misdemeanor theft and faces nine months in prison. Reportedly, a hospital receptionist said a couple came into the lobby Feb. 23, walked around and sat down for an hour. The receptionist left, and a large binder was gone when she returned. The binder contained surgery schedules, confidential numbers of hospital personnel and medical van transportation schedules. When the receptionist couldn’t find the binder, officials reviewed security tapes and saw the man take the binder and run. Currently, the hospital’s non-medical employees are represented by the Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees. Reportedly, several employees were contacted by SEIU shortly after the theft. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel … Read More ➡