Boss Gets 1 Year for Embezzlement

On Jul. 20, the U.S. District Court in Seattle sentenced Robert Kellas, former-president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 843 in Bellingham, WA, to a year and a day in prison and ordered him to pay $78,248 in restitution on top of $70,000 already paid. He will also serve 3 years of supervised release after facing a maximum of 5 years in prison. On Apr. 23, Kellas pled guilty to embezzling between $70,000 and $120,000 from Local 843 and the ATU Legislative Council of Washington State. He was president of Local 843 from 1990-97 and secretary-treasurer of the Legislative Council from 1994-97. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Kellas’ scheme was simply writing checks to himself from the 2 unions. [Seattle Times 04/24/98 & 07/21/98]

Union Corruption Studies Available
The Public Service Research Council just published 2 timely studies: “Fraud Prevalent in Prevailing Wage Surveys” & “The Case Against Public Sector … Read More ➡

Disgraced NHL Boss’ Restitution to go to Defrauded Players

Announced Jul. 16, the $1 million (Canadian) in restitution paid by the founder of the National Hockey League Players’ Association, R. Alan Eagleson, will be divided among 1,400 players harmed by his embezzlement schemes. On Jan. 6, the NHL union boss pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Boston to 3 counts of fraud and theft thereby avoiding prosecution on 32 counts which included stealing from players’ pension funds and insurance premiums, as well as cheating players out of disability money. The next day, he pled guilty in a Canadian court to 3 counts of fraud for skimming advertising money for tournaments and other hockey entities. On top of the restitution, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison in Canada, but was released Jul. 6 after serving only 6 months. [Boston Globe 01/06/98 & Toronto Star 07/17/98]… Read More ➡

Probe of CA Teachers Association Concludes

San Bernardino Co., CA District Attorney’s Office’s investigation into embezzlement schemes involving local teachers unions concluded on Jul. 8, when San Bernardino Co. Superior Court sentenced Nancy Hooper to 180 days of electronic surveillance. Hooper had pled guilty to 8 counts of grand theft embezzlement and 1 count of receiving stolen property. Hooper stole more than $36,000 from the Fontana Teachers Association’s checking account for her personal use. The former Fontana City Councilwoman was also ordered to pay $11,000 in restitution, which is on top of $22,000 already paid. She will also pay the $400 monthly surveillance cost.

This comes less than a month after a Rialto, CA teachers union official was sentenced to 28 months in prison for embezzling about $110,000 from the Rialto Educators Association and Citrus Belt UniServ which oversees several area teachers unions including Fontana Teachers Association. Mary Jane Bronson pleaded guilty to 2 counts of … Read More ➡

UFCW Locals Lack Democracy

In a disturbing display of old-guard tactics, 2 United Food & Commercial Workers locals “elected” their leadership in unopposed elections. According to their media release, on Jul. 1, UFCW Local 1776 in Central Pennsylvania “reelected” President Wendell W. Young for the 17th consecutive time. He and his slate had no opposition and were elected by acclamation. In West Berlin, NJ, a slate of officers including UFCW Local 1360 President Clay Brown were also reelected by acclamation on Jul. 2. Their media release proudly reported: “In stark contrast to a bitterly [yet democratically] contended election three years ago,… no nominations except for the current leadership team were received.”

UPS, The Sequel?
On Jul. 9, Teamsters bosses from 39 locals representing 3,650 members announced that they had unanimously authorized a nationwide strike that would attempt to shut down 43 of Overnite Transportation Company’s 166 depots. Teamsters have been attempting to organize Overnite’s … Read More ➡

Rep. Fawell Probes Rank-and-File’s Troubles

The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations held the second in a series of hearings Jun. 25 that could lead to reform of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959. According to Rep. Harris W. Fawell (R-IL), the purpose is to explore concerns brought to the panel’s attention by rank-and-file union members regarding “problems they are having in retaining a full, equal and democratic voice in their union affairs.” This hearing focused on the restructuring program implemented in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters following Douglas McCarron’s election as president in 1995. McCarron imposed a program to merge local unions and district councils into regional councils. Now local union members no longer elect their local officials. Instead, local union officials are appointed by regional council officials who have been elected by delegates. McCarron placed the union’s district council in NY in trusteeship in Jun. 1996. Frederick DeVine, … Read More ➡

New York Unions Riot

An estimated 40,000 protesters from the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, including Teamsters, Laborers, Electrical Workers and others, strangled the morning rush-hour on Jun. 30 with a militant rally and march through midtown Manhattan.

Union violence was widespread. Officially, 21 people were injured. The violence included: an attempt to turn over a parked van; punching a police horse; bottle-throwing; climbing on cars, vans and street lights; frequent bouts
of shoving and scuffling. Police, in riot gear, were forced to used nightsticks to control the unions and pepper spray before handcuffing some of the 33 union extremists that were arrested. Traffic came to a standstill and many businesses opened late due to the union fracas. It’s alleged that a larger melee is planned.

Why the uproar? The unions were upset over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority awarding a project to a non-union contractor who happened to be the … Read More ➡

Rerun Election Funding Still Uncertain

On Jul. 6, U.S. District Judge David N. Edelstein gave U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White until Jul. 15 to attempt to secure the estimated $8.6 million for a government-supervised, Teamsters rerun election. On Jul. 1, White told Edelstein that the government needed more time to try to end the impasse the rerun funding. White also suggested that, if sufficient funds are not found, the Court should consider the possibility of either appointing a special master to supervise the balloting or ordering the Teamsters to conduct the rerun on its own without government supervision.

The impasse is due to an U.S. Appeals Court ruling forcing taxpayers to pay for the rerun. Congress passed legislation barring taxpayer funding of the rerun because nearly $20 million was wasted on the 1996 election due to the Ron Carey campaign’s scandals, and Congress, led by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), is unconvinced that safeguards are in … Read More ➡

Congressional Investigation has “Long Way” to Go

Rep. Hoekstra told the Grand Rapids Press [07/06/98] he is “still a long way from his goal of rooting out corruption in the nation’s largest private union.” Hoekstra said, “I don’t see it wrapping up anytime soon.” He is not only concerned about 1996, but also about possible 1998 corruption: the Teamsters are “being run by the secretary-treasurer elected on Carey’s slate, Tom Sever. What is Sever allowing to happen right now? Union resources to be used for campaign purposes? It’s the same thing that happened in 1996,” said Hoekstra. But, his investigators, Joseph diGenova & Victoria Toensing announced Jul. 9 that they will be leaving at the end of Jul. [Detroit News 07/10/98]
 
In apparent support of Hoekstra’s concerns, the Associated Press reported on Jun. 27, that it obtained a list of Teamsters staff and the amounts they donated to the Carey-Sever campaign in 1996 that union sources … Read More ➡

Former Carey Supporters’ Infighting Gets Ugly

Despite the funding questions, candidates for Teamsters president, James Hoffa, Tom Leedham and John Metz continue to campaign. Infighting between former Carey supporters, Leedham and Metz, has surfaced. Acting President Tom Sever, who is running on the Metz slate, raised tensions by downsizing the Field Services department. 12 organizers under Field Services head David Eckstein have been laid off, and another 12 were reassigned. Eckstein was stripped of his power. His aides and a research department colleague had their computers impounded by Sever. “The bottom line is it’s all retaliation against me for running for union office,” said Eckstein. Sever’s action came less than a week after Eckstein, announced he was joining Leedham’s slate as a candidate for union trustee. Eckstein has filed 2 protests with the election officer. [AP 06/27/98]

Tainted Family Returns to Power
On Jun. 30, Bobby Hogan was elected secretary-treasurer of the 12,000-member Teamsters Local 714 … Read More ➡

Urbana Officers Ousted

The Laborers’ International Union of North America has ousted all officers of Local 703 in Urbana, IL as part of the “internal reform effort” which is part of the controversial Operating Agreement between LIUNA and the government allowing LIUNA to “reform” itself. Officials alleged that the local’s officers failed to comply with orders for new elections and misspent union money. The action was facilitated by Robert D. Luskin, LIUNA’s in-house prosecutor; however, recent questions about his qualifications and possible conflicts of interest raise concerns about Luskin’s objectivity in the matter. [AP 07/03/98]

Hate-Crime Case May Expand
When 3 white youths were accused of brutally beating a black 13-year-old who had ventured into a mostly white Chicago neighborhood, the criminal case seemed clear. Even President Clinton spoke of the “savage, senseless assault driven by nothing but hate.” 16 months later, prosecutors are struggling to bringing a case to trial. The case … Read More ➡