Michigan Lawmaker Charged with Seeking Bribe from Carpenters Officials

Larry Inman’s vote apparently was for sale. But what does that say about who was paying? On May 15, Inman, a three-term Republican in the Michigan House of Representatives, was indicted in Grand Rapids federal court for attempted extortion, solicitation of a bribe, and lying to the FBI related to his seeking cash payments from a Carpenters union affiliate in exchange for a favorable vote on a prevailing wage bill. He is declaring his innocence, but has an uphill climb. House Speaker Lee Chatfield, also a Republican, wants him to resign. And Mike Jackson, executive secretary for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, is glad Inman “is being brought to justice.” Yet the details are far from completely known. Inman pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on May 28. And the union may have ulterior motives.

Organized labor long has supported the federal Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 and … Read More ➡

Washington State SEIU Affiliate Settles Suit Over Forged Signature

Service Employees International Union Local 775, it seems, would do anything for a buck, including collecting dues from a former member. It’s now learned its limitations. On March 29, the Seattle-based union reached an out-of-court agreement with a Spokane home caregiver, Cindy Ochoa, following its admission that one of its canvassers had forged her signature on a membership card. Ochoa, with the help of a nonprofit legal group, the Freedom Foundation, had filed a lawsuit in federal court in October alleging the union had violated her First Amendment rights, unlawfully withheld part of her wages, and caused emotional distress. Local 775 agreed to pay $15,000 in damages to her and $13,000 to the foundation to cover legal fees, plus send her a written apology.

SEIU Local 775 represents more than 45,000 long-term health care providers in Washington State and Montana, many of them operating out of their homes on behalf … Read More ➡

TCU Treasurer in Ohio Charged with Embezzlement

On or a little before May 9, Bud Sherwood, former secretary-treasurer of Transportation Communications Union Lodge 6546, was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio with embezzling about $10,800 in funds from the Bellevue (near Sandusky)-based union, which represents railroad and other transportation employees. The alleged offenses occurred during February 2014-November 2016. TCU is an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists. The action follows a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Northern Virginia Union Official Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Kickbacks

This March, Union Corruption Update made mention of an unnamed union official who enabled a convicted Maryland contractor, Howard Janoske, to siphon funds from his unnamed union for his own personal use. At least the official now has a name, and a criminal conviction to go along with it. On May 16, Michael Carney, a former facilities and real estate manager for the Herndon, Va.-based union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, theft and embezzlement of funds over a three-year period. Carney’s conviction, like that of Janoske, follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.

Michael Carney, now 63, a resident of Ashburn, Va., who handled physical plant issues for the union, also saw his job as an opportunity to score some illegal money. … Read More ➡

Court Rejects Employer Challenge to ‘Ambush Election’ Rule, Rewards Unions

The Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, with its built-in pro-union majority, gave organized labor plenty of organizing and bargaining advantages, but none perhaps as far-reaching as the “quickie” or “ambush” election rule. Now an appeals court has upheld it. On April 19, a three-judge panel for the District of Columbia federal circuit court, in UPS Ground Freight Inc. v. NLRB, rejected an employer challenge to the rule, which, when put in place in April 2015, dramatically shortened the time available for employers to convey to employees their objections to potential union representation. Plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that the board’s directive to UPS to bargain with a Teamsters local lay outside the scope of its authority and that the rule “values speed at all costs.” And they were right.

Unions, like all organizations, seek to maximize membership. And that requires on some level persuading workers at nonunion sites to see the … Read More ➡

Former ILWU Official in Hawaii Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft, Tax Fraud

It wasn’t exactly the classiest behavior. On March 28, Nathan Lum, former director of the Longshore Division of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to one count each of aggravated identity theft and income tax evasion. The offenses, unrelated to operations of the Honolulu-based union, had a lot to do with his misuse of his late father’s stream of income. The guilty plea follows a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Sentencing is scheduled for July.

Court records show that Lum, now 61, a powerful, well-paid boss of the more than 1,000-member ILWU Local 142, cashed Social Security checks made out to his father, who died in June 2013, and diverted the money to his own use. In addition, he failed to file federal income tax returns for … Read More ➡

AFGE Treasurer in Maryland Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

Were it not for an overheard telephone call, Annette Jones might still be ripping off her union. Accidents will happen. On May 9, Jones, former treasurer of American Federation of Government Employees Local 331, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to bank fraud in connection with her embezzlement over a three-year period of more than $80,000 in funds from her union, which represents about 760 employees of Perry Point VA Medical Center in Cecil County, Md. She had been indicted on multiple counts last June. The plea follows an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General. Sentencing is set for September 10.

According to prosecutors, Jones, now 45, a resident of Port Deposit, Md., conducted a pair of fraud schemes against AFGE Local 331. By far the largest occurred during July 2012-July … Read More ➡

ILWU, Dockworkers in Oregon Sued for Roles in Time Card Scam

There are few workplaces in this country that can match the shipping terminal when it comes to wage and hour fraud – especially if the dockworkers are unionized. Back in December, Columbia Export Terminal in Portland, Oregon filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and more than 150 of its members, accusing them of participating in a conspiracy to inflate their on-the-clock time in a variety of ways. The schemes allegedly cost the terminal over $5 million. The union, the suit reads, “organized and orchestrated the scheme to submit falsified time sheets.” A court spokesperson told National Legal and Policy Center yesterday afternoon that the case remains active, though a pretrial hearing has yet to be scheduled.

The longshore industry long has been plagued by union-abetted time sheet fraud. About a dozen years ago, Union Corruption Update extensively Read More ➡

Steelworkers Secretary in Massachusetts Admits to Sufficient Finding of Facts

On April 9, Edgar Barajas, former financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 4-1702, filed an Alford plea with the Marlborough Division of the Middlesex District Court of Massachusetts following a charge last August that he stole funds from the Marlborough union. He allegedly had made unauthorized cash withdrawals and debit card purchases totaling $10,279. Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not plead guilty but instead admits that the evidence is sufficient for a conviction should the case go to trial. By agreement with the union, the court will dismiss the case if Barajas pays full restitution and associated court fees within one year. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

Illinois SMART Secretary-Treasurer Sentenced for Records Fraud

On April 11, Edward Cranston, former secretary-treasurer for Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 1421, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to three years of probation for filing a false financial report for the year 2014 to conceal his thefts from the Beecher (Will County), Ill.-based union in the sum of $28,220. He also was ordered to pay the remaining nearly $10,000 of the $28,084 in restitution plus a $25 assessment. Cranston had pleaded guilty in January following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡