Boss Sentenced for Embezzlement

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 ➡

Report Released on Corrupt New York Boss

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 ➡

Bosses & Liberals Team-Up Again

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]

QUOTABLE QUOTES
“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 ➡

Hoekstra Turns Probe to DOL

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 ➡

Fawell Press Ahead with Reform Legislation

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 ➡

Workers Win Dues Ruling

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 ➡

Rerun Election Pushed Back

U.S. Dist. Judge David N. Edelstein approved Sep. 14 an new timetable for the Teamsters rerun election. Members will vote Nov. 2-Dec. 3., and counting begins Dec. 3. The reason for the delay: the $538,000 money-laundering schemes employed by the disgraced and expelled president, Ron Carey’ campaign. Taxpayers have been forced to contribute $4 million to the rerun’s monitoring cost after paying nearly $20 million for the failed monitoring of the 1996 election. The corrupt union reluctantly agreed to pay $2 million. This is $2.6 million short of the $8.6 million originally requested. The savings will come from limiting protest processes and substituting electronic devices for security guards at the ballot counting. [BNA 9/16/98]
 
Texas Boss Gets 51 Months for Theft
A Houston Teamsters boss was sentenced Aug. 31 to 51 months in prison for using union funds for personal items such as underwear and monogrammed luggage. Richard … Read More ➡

Boss Stole $8K on the Job

According to the Ohio auditor’s office, the president of the Am. Fed. of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3984 owes Ohio $8,217 that she admitted stealing last year while working in the Butler Co. Clerk of Courts office. Lori Lutes, who is also a motor-vehicle dep’t bookkeeper, pled guilty in Jul. to “theft in office,” a felony.  [Cincinnati Enquirer 9/10/98]

LIUNA Boss Accused of Harassment
Two female construction workers who alleged that a union boss demanded sex for job assignments have won probable cause findings from the Mass. Comm’n Against Discrimination. Ruth Ann Niemeyer and Pamela J. Corey alleged James M. Porter, LIUNA Local 243 business manager, made the women perform sex in return for work. Winning the Sep. 3 decision was the women’s first legal hurdle. Despite complaining about Porter’s behavior, LIUNA refused to take action. The alleged actions are quite sick. Niemeyer alleges Porter forced her … Read More ➡

Long-time Boss’ Expenses Questioned in Cal. Election

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 ➡

$500K Embezzled from Workers’ Compensation Fund

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 ➡