For certain members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 858, out-of-town union events provided an opportunity for good side money. The issue is whether they attended those events or whether the events themselves even happened. On August 20, the City of Pasadena placed three municipal workers on leave in light of evidence that they received “highly questionable” payments from the union totaling nearly $65,000. The trio, plus two former City employees, are the focus of a separate ongoing AFSCME probe. Nobody has been arrested or charged. Indeed, police so far have not been called in to investigate. But union investigators believe that there is a real possibility of criminal activity. AFSCME Administrator Jeff Bigelow terms the expenses “unusual, inappropriate and possibly unlawful.”
Norman Seabrook once represented guards at Rikers Island, one of the nation’s toughest city jails. He now likely will do some serious prison time. On August 15, Seabrook (in photo), former longtime president of New York City’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association (COBA), was found guilty by a Manhattan federal jury of honest services fraud and conspiracy related to a $60,000 bribe he had taken a few years earlier from the head of a now-bankrupt hedge fund in return for steering $20 million in COBA assets to the fund. The hedge fund CEO, Murray Huberfeld, and his emissary, Jona Rechnitz, already had pleaded guilty. Seabrook’s previous trial ended in a hung jury last November. “I will be vindicated because God is still on his throne,” said Seabrook after his conviction, vowing to appeal. Sentencing is set for November 30.
The Supreme Court’s Janus decision four months ago, which overturned the authority of public-sector unions to force nonmember employees under contract to pay dues or risk losing their jobs, has taken some unexpected turns. Indeed, barely after the ruling, a Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit group, the Buckeye Institute, filed separate suits on behalf of a high school teacher in Ohio and a college professor in Minnesota challenging the authority of their respective unions to bargain exclusively. In effect, the plaintiffs seek to be freed from representation they never requested in the first place. “These capable public servants have the right to speak for themselves and should be released from forced association with unions and advocacy with which they disagree,” said Institute President Robert Alt. The unions have a different view.
For nearly five years, Timothy Carrol Smith used his union as a cash dispensary. He now has some time to think about the consequences. Last Friday, October 19, Smith, formerly secretary-treasurer for Association of Civilian Technicians Chapter 84, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to eight months in prison, plus three years of supervised release, for embezzling slightly over $80,000 in funds from the Anchorage-based union, which represents about 70 civilian employees at Elmendorf-Richardson Joint Air Force Base. Smith had pleaded guilty in April after being charged in February. The actions follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Nobody is too old to go to prison if the offense is serious enough. Joan Matthews has learned that lesson the hard way. On Wednesday, October 17, Matthews, former bookkeeper for the Charleston Building and Construction Trades Council (CBCTC), was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to a year and a day in prison for embezzling $183,667.11 in funds from the Charleston-based, AFL-CIO-affiliated council. She also was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $141,325.78. Matthews had pleaded guilty this June after being indicted in January. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
On October 4, Steven Perry, former financial secretary-treasurer of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2077, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio with embezzling funds from the Columbus-based union in the amount of $20,458. The charge follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡ “Ohio Carpenters Local Secretary-Treasurer Charged with Embezzlement”
On September 25, Teresa Adkins, ex-business manager of International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 127, pleaded no contest in Waupaca County, Wisconsin Circuit Court to one count of theft and one count of forgery in connection with the disappearance of funds from the Clintonville, Wisc. union. She then was sentenced to five years of probation for the first count and three years of probation for the second count. She also was ordered to pay $73,618 in restitution and $8,418 in fines. Adkins, now in her late 40s, a resident of Green Bay, had been charged in February 2017 with one count of theft and nine counts of forgery for offenses committed during April 2013-February 2015. The charges follow an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡ “Heat & Frost Insulators Business Manager in Wisconsin Pleads No Contest; Sentenced”
On September 28, David Hendricks, former secretary-treasurer of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 900, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama to five years of probation for embezzling $13,987 from the Huntsville-based union. He also was ordered to pay full restitution and a $100 special assessment. Hendricks, a resident of Huntsville, had pleaded guilty in May following a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡ “IATSE Secretary in Alabama Sentenced for Embezzlement”
On September 19, John Burgess, former president of Pacific Stainless Products Employee Association Local 304, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon on one count of embezzling about $35,000 in funds from the St. Helens-based union and one count of concealing the thefts. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡ “Oregon Independent Union President Indicted for Embezzlement”
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME was a stunning blow to over 40 years of public-sector union monopoly power. Union leaders for their part are pushing back. They have plenty of allies in state governments, and perhaps no state is as vociferous as New York. Indeed, on June 27, the day of the ruling, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to protect union members from outside intimidation – ironic, given the pressure unions often use to collect dues. The State of New York also has begun deducting dues from the pay of government workers without even checking to see if they are members. And now a prominent lawmaker wants taxpayers to reimburse unions for foregone dues.