Firing of Miners for Wrongful Protest Upheld

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an arbitrator’s ruling that Island Creek Coal Co. was within its rights to fire two United Mine Workers from Local 7555 for picketing. The ruling was based on the collective bargaining agreement and was not based on the arbitrator’s own sense of justice. In Mar. 1997, a group of miners gathered near company property to protest. Some of the protesters told supervisors that they were going to stop work at the plant if they did not get answers about disputed pay issues. The five-day protest caused Island Creek employees and other contract employees to stop working resulting in the plant losing two full days and three partial days of production. The company identified protesting miners and discharged them.

The UMW filed grievances protesting the discharge, which were referred to arbitration. Arbitrator Jerome H. Ross found that a significant portion of the dispute involved … Read More ➡

Indictment Total Reaches 27 in New York’s Corrupt DC37

On Jun. 15, Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert M. Morgenthau indicted nine more bosses of the Am. Fed. of State, County & Municipal Employees Dist. Council 37 on union corruption charges, bringing to the number of bosses indicted in the recent scandal to a shocking 27.

Albert A. Diop, ex-Local 1549 president, was accused of directing an elaborate fraud resulting in the ratification of DC37’s 1996 contract with N.Y.C. Martin Lubin, DC37 ex-associate director, was also indicted in the voting scheme.  Diop also allegedly stole $1.6 million via various scams: He allegedly spent $270,000 in personal expenses on the union’s credit card. He allegedly had the union spend over $500,000 for his penthouse. He allegedly took $817,000 in wrongful “hospitality money.” He allegedly used $4,300 in unauthorized union funds for listening devices in DC37 offices after Morgenthau began his probe last year.

Robert Taylor, ex-Local 983 president was indicted on charges … Read More ➡

Nevada Boss Indicted, Allegedly $53,000 Embezzled in Indiana

An ex-teachers union boss pled innocent Jun. 2 to a 20-count grand jury indictment in U.S. Dist. Court in Fort Wayne, Ind. for union corruption. Steve Confer allegedly embezzled over $53,000 in 1994-96 while treasurer of the Professional Service Org. of the Ind. State Teachers Ass’n.  Confer 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 from that post in 1998.

Confer 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 1997 agreement. But a private settlement doesn’t shelter Confer from prosecution. He faces a life ban from union office as well as 5 years in prison or a $10,000 fine for each charge. [Las Vegas Review-Journal 6/3/99]

New York 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 ➡

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 ➡