Hoekstra Turns Probe to DOL

In the ongoing Congressional probe of the tainted 1996 Teamsters election, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) is exploring claims that U.S. Labor Dep’t officials agreed to take action on the union’s behalf in return for its support for President Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign. Hoekstra, Chairman of Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee of the Workforce Committee, has asked DOL Sep. 18 for documents relating to a Mar. 1995 meeting that he says was attended by Harold M. Ickes, former deputy chief of staff at the White House; Thomas Glynn, former deputy secretary of DOL; Steve Rosenthal, former associate deputy secretary of DOL; Ron Carey, disgraced former president of the Teamsters; and William Hamilton, disgraced former government affairs director of the union.  This request follows Attorney General Janet Reno’s announcement that she has opened a 90-day preliminary investigation into allegations that Ickes lied in Senate testimony last year about his efforts to help the … Read More ➡

Fawell Press Ahead with Reform Legislation

Rep. Harris W. Fawell (R-Ill.) announced Sep. 24 that he will introduce legislation to amend the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act prior to the adjournment of Congress next month. Fawell, Chairman of the Employer-Employee Relations Subcommittee of the Workforce Committee, said during the latest in a series of hearings on “impediments to union democracy” that he has come to the conclusion that the “goals” of the 1959 law, also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, “are not always reached.”   The proposed legislation that is largely based on the recommendations of two leading experts on union democracy, Prof. Clyde Summers of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Herman Benson, founder of the Association for Union Democracy, who both testified at earlier hearings of the subcommittee. Fawell’s announcement came as he opened a hearing into charges that the rights of members of the approximately 200-member American Radio Association are being violated. … Read More ➡

Workers Win Dues Ruling

U.S. Dist. Judge Royce Lamberth ruled Oct. 1 that the Communications Workers of America failed to inform about 50,000 affiliated workers that they didn’t have to pay full dues. Workers who pay a fee to the union for collective bargaining representation but don’t become full union members were awarded damages in the class-action suit sponsored by the National Right to Work Foundation.  Any of the workers who didn’t want to pay for work the union did outside of collective bargaining, such as political advocacy, from 1987-95 can request reimbursement for a portion of their dues. A NRTW foundation spokesman Stefan Gleason called Lamberth’s ruling a “monumental decision on behalf of workers across the country. Not only will it allow these abused workers to exercise their rights not to pay for union activities that they object to in the future, but it will also allow them to be reimbursed for the … Read More ➡

One Dead, Documents Stolen & Destroyed in Kentucky Probe

An audit of the Kentucky AFL-CIO sparked by member union complaints of corruption has turned the Ky. AFL-CIO upside down: so much so that it had to cancel its state convention last week. Notice of the national AFL-CIO’s audit arrived in Frankfort on Sep. 15. That day, Donna Bayless, the Ky. AFL-CIO’s bookkeeper at the center of the corruption allegations, was reported missing. She was found dead Sep. 19, an apparent suicide. She was found in a secluded wooded area owned by her family. Police said Bayless died of a single gunshot wound in the side of her head and a pistol was found near her body.

Police are investigating an Aug. break-in at the Ky. AFL-CIO HQ in which records were stolen and a Sep. 4 fire. The fire did minimal damage but destroyed union records and is considered an arson. Bayless disappeared the same day police went to … Read More ➡

Kentucky Governor Linked to Union Indictments

Kentucky Democratic Gov. Paul Patton’s two top aides and two Teamsters bosses were indicted on charges of violating campaign finance laws in Patton’s 1995 election. The special grand jury indictments were unsealed Sep. 24 by a Ky. Supreme Court order. The named were: Skipper Martin, Patton’s chief of staff and 1995 campaign manager; Danny Ross, Patton’s labor liaison who ran a pro-Patton campaign for the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO between stints on Patton’s state payroll; Lon Fields, president of Teamsters Local 89 in Louisville, where Ross ran the campaign; and Robert Winstead, secretary-treasurer of Local 89 and recording secretary of the Teamsters’ state council, through which the national union paid for Ross’ campaign work. The four’s lawyers denied their clients broke the law.

Patton has denied wrongdoing, and in an act of defiance, he said that Martin and Ross would keep their state jobs, saying they were “vital to the … Read More ➡

Fifth, Charney, Pleads Guilty in Teamsters Scandal

The lawyer who represented the disgraced and expelled Teamsters President Ron Carey in his 1996 reelection pled guilty Oct. 1 to one count of conspiracy for making false statements to a court-appointed officer. It’s the fifth guilty plea, with one indictment, in the money-laundering scheme which funneled over $538,000 into Carey’s campaign. Nathaniel Charney, of the labor law firm of Cohen, Weiss & Simon, admitted in U.S. Dist. Court in Manhattan to lying to former election officer Barbara Zack Quindel about contributions and to concealing that two employers had sent his law firm checks for the Carey campaign. It’s illegal for employers to contribute to union candidates. Reportedly, Charney vetted contributions to a special fund that took donations from non-Teamsters. He faces 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He acknowledged in court that he is cooperating with prosecutors, which implies that more indictments are likely. [N.Y. TimesRead More ➡

Union Shutout in Jacob’s Field

Food service workers at the Cleveland Indian’s Jacob’s Field rejected union representation Sep. 11, handing the local union bosses a high-profile defeat. The voting ended just minutes before the start of the Indians’s game and a mere 37% of Cleveland Sportservice employees voted to join Local 10 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. Sandy Golden, a commissary worker, said, “I don’t have any complaints about the way things are now. I feel my wages are fair, and I’m treated respectfully.” Historically, HERE is one of America’s most corrupt unions, and Cleveland has been the home of some of the most corrupt locals in America. [Plain Dealer 9/12/98]… Read More ➡

Boss Took Trip to London with Members’ Funds

A former boss of the Service Employees Int’l Union used union members dues for personal trips to Disney World and London. The former head of the SEIU local in Boyton Beach, Fla., Wanda Stimpson, was sentenced Sep. 4 to 5 months in prison for embezzling $120,000 from the union for her vacations. Federal prosecutors said she altered checks to conceal her scheme. The SEIU boss also was sentenced to 5 months of home detention and 2 years of probation. There was no report of restitution. [Palm Beach Post 9/5/98]

$412K a Year Boss Sets Up Defense Fund
Reportedly America’s highest-paid union boss, Gus Bevona, who made $412,000 in 1997 as president of N.Y.’s SEIU Local 32B-32J, is in trouble. Despite his salary, Bevona is asking other union bosses to fund his latest legal defense costs. According to his lawyer’s recent letter to other bosses, he “is being victimized by … Read More ➡

Second Hanley to Resign Over Criminal Charges

The son of Edward T. Hanley, the disgraced former President of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Int’l Union, has reportedly settled charges of embezzlement and misuse of union funds. Thomas Hanley has resigned as HERE’s director of organization and as president of Local 1 in Chicago. Kurt Muellenberg, HERE’s monitor under the 1995 consent agreement with the Justice Dep’t, confirmed that Hanley’s resignation was stipulated under an agreement settling various charges of misconduct. But, Muellenberg refused to give further details until U.S. Dist. Judge Garrett E. Brown has reviewed the agreement.

However, a government source familiar with the agreement told the Bureau of National Affairs that Hanley agreed to relinquish his two positions and pay a $25,000 penalty. But Hanley would be able to retain his HERE membership (thus his pension), and after Aug. 31, 1999, he could participate in HERE without restriction the source said. Hanley’s ouster comes … Read More ➡

Federal Sting Nabs Corrupt Boss

A Chicago Teamsters boss was indicted Sep. 17 for taking $16,000 in bribes from a mole of an federal investigation called Operation Silver Shovel. The mole, John Christopher, attempted to bribe the boss to overlook his financial obligations to Local 786. The local’s president from 1982-97, Walter Hoff, allegedly accepted two payoffs. Hoff is the 17th defendant charged in the ongoing investigation, but the first defendant named in 10 months, and the first union figure implicated in what has been mostly a public corruption probe.

“Labor union officials are supposed to bargain with employers at arm’s length, not with their hands in each other’s pockets,” said U.S. Atty. Scott Lassar. “The defendant allegedly placed his own financial interest ahead of his
duty to protect the interests of the workers whom he represented.”

Hoff is charged with 9 counts of fraud, labor racketeering and tax evasion. Prosecutors said that one payoff … Read More ➡