Kamala Harris, the junior U.S. senator from California, is a woman in a hurry. Elected in 2016, Harris today announced her candidacy for president in 2020. “I’m running for president of the United States, and I’m very excited about it,” she told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Her track record, however, suggests she would be the kind of president who among other things would cut ethical corners on behalf of labor unions. Back in 2015, Harris, as California attorney general, helped a powerful affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) scotch the purchase of a half-dozen nonprofit health care facilities by a corporate buyer to protect union jobs. While a federal judge twice has dismissed allegations by the buyer, Prime Healthcare, that she abused her office, the case deserves another look.
On December 20, John Burgess, former president of Pacific Stainless Products Employee Association Local 304, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon to one count of concealment or destruction of financial records of the St. Helens-based union. He had been indicted in September on one count of embezzling about $35,000 and one count of concealment. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
The year 2018 saw the indictment, conviction and sentences of plenty of organized labor scams. New York City played host to some of the largest. For sheer magnitude, nothing anywhere could match the network of union fraud surrounding the construction of Hudson Yards, a large-scale, mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side. Set for completion in 2024, the project from the start has been a source of easy money for labor organizations affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The general contractor, Related Companies, having reached the limits of frustration, filed suit last March with the State Supreme Court against the council and its president for promoting or allowing illegal practices that allegedly have added over $100 million to the total project cost.
On December 19, Ted Watson, former business manager for International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 74, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa for embezzlement, mail fraud and making false statements against the Des Moines-based union. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
First, the union leader pleaded guilty. Then, it was his business partner’s turn. On December 14, Lawrence Ackerman, head of a pair of shell insurance brokerages, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to a superseding information for health care fraud, part of a long-running scheme that fleeced a United Auto Workers benefit plan and a Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliate out of a combined $6.6 million. He had been indicted in January 2017. Sergio Acosta, former president of United Auto Workers Local 2326, pleaded guilty to his role in the scam last April. The actions follow a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.
On December 17, Robin Ray Bishop, former financial secretary of United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Local 2501, was indicted in the Jefferson County Circuit Court for the Commonwealth of Kentucky on one count of theft by deception in a sum of over $500, nine counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, and one count of falsifying business records. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
On December 19, Benjamin Wisecarver, former president of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 264, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and embezzlement in the amount of $57,310 from the Hampton union. He had been indicted on multiple counts in October. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
On December 7, Keith Franzese, former president of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America Local 275, was sentenced in Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Md. to 10 years in prison (suspended), 90 days of home detention and five years of probation for various acts of theft from the Greenbelt-based union. He also was ordered to pay $67,624 in restitution. Franzese, who entered an Alford plea last June, had been indicted in November 2017 on 15 counts of various acts of theft, embezzlement and fraud totaling well over $200,000. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡
Adam Conheeny is following in the footsteps of Christopher Hayes. And the path isn’t an enviable one. On December 20, Conheeny, ex-treasurer of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island to three months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for wire fraud in the sum of $31,413 against the Newport, R.I.-based union over a five-year period. He had pleaded guilty in May following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General, and the Rhode Island State Police. He has paid back the union in full. The case grew out of an investigation of former lodge President Christopher Hayes, who was sentenced in July 2017 for ripping off the union by more than $70,000.
According to prosecutors, Conheeny, 46, a resident of Portsmouth, R.I., and an officer … Read More ➡
The union calls them “service fees.” In practice, they amount to dues. And public school teachers are among those who believe that it is a distinction without a difference. On November 13, Thomas Few, a special education teacher in Los Angeles, filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District challenging their tandem practice of deducting a large fee from salaries of teachers who remain employed but leave the union. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, Few had informed the union of his intent to resign, but was told that he would have to pay an annual “service fee” equivalent to monthly dues. The union, an affiliate of the state chapters of both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, … Read More ➡