In sports, there is a saying: “There’s nothing worse than a tie.” For public-sector unions, however, a tie is now reason to celebrate. Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced it was deadlocked 4-4 over whether public-sector labor unions have the authority to force nonmembers to pay partial dues (“agency fees”) to keep their jobs. The tie, made possible by the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia, removed the likely deciding vote in favor of the plaintiffs, the leader of whom was a California teacher, Rebecca Friedrichs (in photo). During oral arguments in January, a 5-4 win for the plaintiffs appeared certain. The Court did not reschedule the case, and in so doing, left intact a dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims by a federal appeals court. Mandatory fees remain a fact of life.
Shelly Sutton spent a lot of time stealing from her union. She’s now likely to do some hard time. On February 17, Sutton, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 477, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to one count of bank fraud in the amount of $93,094. The Wichita-based union represents employees at the local VA hospital. She had been indicted last November for stealing $65,000 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
Prosecutors had alleged that Sutton, 46, a resident of Augusta, Kan., engaged in the following acts: forged signatures on union checks; made unauthorized cash withdrawals from union accounts; made electronic payments from a union account to her own creditors; and used her union debit card to make unauthorized purchases. She faces up to 30 years in prison and a … Read More ➡
On February 17, Danny Rawls, former member of United Auto Workers Local 2297, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to one year of probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,208 for concealing acts of theft in financial records of the Shreveport union. He had pleaded guilty in September after being indicted in March 2015. Rawls and Local Vice President Gregory Hill had been charged with embezzlement and forgery totaling more than $12,000. The actions followed a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
When Bruce Dow resigned under pressure as longtime head of the Screen Actors Guild’s pension and health plans in April 2012 amid allegations of extensive self-dealing, a good deal of unfinished business remained. Now the workload has gotten smaller. On November 12, former plan chief information officer Nader Karimi pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to omitting more than $700,000 in income on his tax returns for the years 2005 through 2008. Karimi had changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” before U.S. District Judge Fernando Olguin. Sentencing, originally set for March 11, has been reset for April 14. He faces up to three years in prison. The plea follows a probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
The case against Nader Karimi sprung from a complaint filed with the Department of Labor (DOL) four and a … Read More ➡
Educators have been responsible for some of the more flagrant cases of union corruption in recent years. Patrick Santeramo, for one, doesn’t need any reminders of that. On January 20, Santeramo, former president of the Broward Teachers Union, the Broward County, Florida affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, was convicted by a state jury on various theft, fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance violations. Only weeks later, on February 12, he pleaded guilty in Fort Lauderdale federal court to one count of mail fraud. His combined take was well over $300,000. “We are profoundly disappointed in the jury’s verdict,” said defense attorney Benedict Kuehne following the state trial. The weight of evidence, however, strongly suggests justice was done in both cases.
On February 16, Karen McJimpson, former executive vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 4004, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of failure to maintain records of the Detroit-based union. She had been charged earlier that day in a superseding information count following an August indictment for embezzlement of about $19,000 in union funds. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
When Teamsters headquarters replaces a corrupt official with a trustee, the action may take a long while, if ever, to result in a prosecution. In the case of Jerry Conner, the wait is over. On February 5, Conner, former president and business agent for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 279, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois to making false entries in financial records of the Decatur-based union. The guilty plea follows a joint probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Jerry Conner hasn’t run Local 279 in nearly three years. On June 28, 2013, Teamster General President James P. Hoffa replaced him with a trustee following an investigation by the international union’s federal overseer, the Independent Review Board. The IRB had concluded that Conner had breached his fiduciary duties to the local in various ways: wrote … Read More ➡
His blinkered economic ideas aside, Senator Bernie Sanders at least seems to work within the law. The same can’t be said for one of his presidential campaign outreach advisers, Charles “Chuck” Rocha. Early last month, the webzine Politico reported that Rocha, former political director for the United Steelworkers and now head of a consulting firm called Solidarity Strategies, had been convicted in 2013 of stealing funds from the union. Union Corruption Update has reported on this case. Rocha’s company thus far has received over $200,000 in Sanders campaign disbursements. The revelation suggests that despite the senator’s frequent denunciations of establishment corruption, his populist instincts are less than sound when it comes to hiring campaign help.
It’s difficult to imagine any presidential candidate, even in the Democratic Party, outflanking Bernie Sanders from the Left. The second-term U.S. senator from Vermont, now 74, who previously had served eight terms in the House … Read More ➡
On February 4, Anne Susan, former business manager for Laborers International Union of North America Local 1386, was sentenced in Maricopa County (Ariz.) Superior Court to three years of probation for theft, identity theft and forgery against the Phoenix-based union. She also was ordered to pay $18,056 in restitution. Susan had pleaded guilty in January after being charged in October. The sentencing follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On February 3, Lawrence Moyer, president of American Postal Workers Union Local 6723, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with one count of embezzling $2,599 in funds from the Troy (suburban Detroit) union. The charge follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡