Seattle Harassment Suit Winner Threatened

A day after ex-member Jennifer Murray won a $750,000 jury verdict in sexual harassment suit against Int’l Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union Locals 19 and 98 in Seattle and others, she and her family were threatened. Murray says she received death threats Feb. 13 and her mother was cursed by Longshoremen at a restaurant. Murray is so terrified, she plans to move away with her two children. Murray’s stepfather, a lifelong union foreman won’t speak to her. “My (step)dad wants nothing to do with me because I sued. I am no longer his daughter,” Murray said.

In July 1996, two weeks after she had a baby, Murray claimed she was repeatedly molested by a fellow Longshoremen in the hold of a cargo ship. She protested each time the man thrust himself on her. Before that, she said she had been subjected to unsolicited sexual comments and harassment that included being stalked … Read More ➡

Member Sues Massachusetts Boss for Harassment

Ruth A. Niemeyer has filed suit in U.S. Dist. Court in Mass. against Laborers Int’l Union of No. Am., Mass. Laborers Council, LIUNA Local 243 and boss James M. Porter, alleging sexual favors were demanded in exchange for job placements. Niemeyer is seeking $2.5 million. The 36-count, 84-page suit, filed Feb. 1, is based on claims Niemeyer made to the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination. MCAD issued a probable cause ruling in Aug. on behalf of Niemeyer and an another member, Pamela J. Corey. “A probable cause ruling means there is merit to what they were claiming in the case,” said a MCAD official. Corey is considering a similar suit. Niemeyer’s suit says that between 1985-97 she was subjected to a continuing pattern and practice of gender discrimination, harassment and sexually abusive behavior. [Telegram & Gazette 2/24/99]

Ohio LIUNA Member Wins Dues Case
The Nat. Labor Relations Board ruled Feb. 23 … Read More ➡

Ex-Inmate Sues New York Boss for $100 Million

A mentally retarded ex-inmate of the Nassau County (N.Y.) Jail is suing the top boss of the jail’s correctional officers’ union, Salvatore Gemelli, and the county for $100 million for violating his civil rights. According to the ex-inmate’s Feb. 23 testimony in U.S. Dist. Court in Brooklyn, the union boss assaulted him twice shortly after he arrived in the jail — one time with a pot and pan. The inmate was in jail on a child sexual abuse charge and later pled guilty to a misdemeanor. This trial came amid a federal investigation into the jail and its union. Gemelli denied the allegations at his Feb. 24 testimony. [N.Y. Times 2/24-25/99]… Read More ➡

Ohio Local “Illegally” Fined Worker $32,500

Nat. Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board stating that local Painters union bosses levied illegal fines of $32,500 against a worker who exercised his right to refrain from formal union membership. Officials of Painters & Allied Trades Local 1275 in Columbus levied the fines after construction worker James Ott sent two resignation letters to union officials in an attempt to resign his union membership. Local 1275 officials ignored his legal right to resign and instead held an internal union “court” and levied the fines after Ott joined another union.

“Once again, union chieftains prove that their main concern is preserving at all costs the unchecked power they wield over workers,” said NRTW’s Stefan Gleason. “There can be no doubt that this attempt to extort a worker for more money than many people make in a year will send … Read More ➡

Bosses Threaten Wall Street over Lobbying

Top AFL-CIO and AFSCME bosses have recently threatened several Wall Street firms with pulling union pension funds from anyone who dares to suggest individuals, rather than the federal taxpayer, be allowed to invest their Social Security dollars. The union threat letters went to nine firms that manage billions in pension assets for union members: Fidelity Investments, J.P.Morgan, State Street Global Advisors, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Am. Express, Chase Manhattan, CitiGroup and Bankers Trust N.Y. [Washington Times 2/19/99]

Ickes Aids Clinton Senate Bid
Fresh off the U.S. Dep’t of Justice’s scandal heap, Harold M. Ickes has reemerged as a political handler of Hillary Clinton’s possible N.Y. Senate candidacy. On Feb. 18, Ickes reportedly began contacting N.Y. union bosses, campaign gurus and county leaders on Clinton’s behalf.  On Jan. 29 Atty. Gen. Janet Reno controversially chose not to appoint an independent counsel to probe possible illegal acts by Ickes on … Read More ➡

Illinois Boss Guilty of Intimidation

Michael J. Gochis was convicted Feb. 2 by federal jury on three misdemeanor counts connected to his intimidation and physical assault of Teamster Local 505 member David Bothum. During a 1995 contract settlement, Bothum spoke against a proposal. His comments drew the ire of Gochis, who threatened Bothum. After one such exchange Gochis allegedly attacked Bothum from behind and threw him to the concrete floor warehouse, fracturing Bothum’s ribs. Gochis was acquitted of battery in 1998, but federal prosecutors later charged him with violating a federal labor statute forbidding intimidation of union members who voice their views on union business. Asst. U.S. Atty. Mark Vogel said the federal charges were brought after a key witness allegedly perjured himself in the battery trial. Gochis faces 3 years in prison. [Chicago Tribune 2/4/99]

Corrupt New Jersey Local Oversight to End
Court-appointed monitor Edwin H. Stier said Feb. 5 that the notorious Teamsters … Read More ➡

Reno Wimps Out, Ickes Avoids Independent Counsel

Atty. Gen. Janet Reno controversially chose not to appoint an independent counsel Jan. 29 to probe possible illegal acts by ex-Clinton aide Harold M. Ickes on behalf of the Teamsters.  Ickes, the Clinton Adminstration’s DNC liaison in 1996, is also a longtime union attorney whose clients have had severe corruption problems. The probe would have focused on charges of perjury and campaign finance abuses. Before the Senate’s 1997 Thompson Committee, Ickes vigorously denied that the Clinton Adminstration helped the Teamsters in a dispute with Diamond Walnut Growers. But the Committee later uncovered union memos stating Ickes had urged then-U.S. Trade Rep. Mickey Kantor to intervene, and Ickes’ aide testified that Ickes told her to make sure Kantor followed through. [A.P. 1/29/99]

Hoffa Still Not in Control
Ron Carey-loyalist, Tom Leedham, who failed in his bid to be Teamsters president last year, filed the latest review request Feb. 2 of president-elect … Read More ➡

DC37 $2 Million Slush Fund Confirmed

AFSCME issued Feb. 8 the first public accounting of New York’s scandal-ridden Dist. Council 37.  It confirmed dissidents’ belief that DC37 was involved in a members dues scam enabling its bosses to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses. Between 1995-98, ten bosses spent $450,000 on DC37 credit cards, but only three officials submitted any documentation. In DC37’s 1998 budget, bosses deliberately underestimated the number of dues-paying members by 8,000 to 9,000, which resulted in income of $2 million.

The report also detailed a scheme in which some of DC37’s locals made expenditures that would be paid for by DC37, but DC37 would then hold back dues money as payment for the spending. It allowed locals to engage in spending that did not show up on the local books. One example was $600,000 that Local 372 ex-president Charles Hughes took for “fraudulent overtime he claimed to have worked … Read More ➡

Ohio Boss Pleads Guilty to $316,000 Embezzlement

William S. Demboski Jr., an ex-secretary-treasurer of United Steelworkers of Am. Local 01-2-L in Akron, pled guilty Feb. 2 with embezzling over $316,000 in union funds. The union boss confessed to writing 302 unauthorized union checks from 1993-97. USWA officials couldn’t explain how the corrupt boss was able to embezzle the funds without detection for over four years.  Demboski’s reign ran 12 years.  He faces between 18 and 24 months in prison under the plea agreement and must make full restitution to the union. [Akron Beacon Journal 2/3/99]

UNITE Sued for Libel in North Carolina
A Greensboro, N.C. bedding manufacturer, filed a libel suit Jan. 28 against the Union of Needletrades, Indus. & Textile Employees.  Crescent Sleep Products accuses UNITE of libeling and slandering the company in order to damage the company’s reputation, harm its relationship with its licensor, Serta, and drive away customers.  The suit is a result  of … Read More ➡

New York’s King Benova Dethroned

The union world is abuzz with the amazing news that a dissident lawsuit has ousted one of America’s highest paid union bosses. AFL-CIO boss John J. Sweeney’s successor, Gus Benova was paid well over $400,000 a year to run the Service Employee Int’l Union Local 32B-32J. On Feb. 1, Benova ended his 18 year reign that began when Sweeney was elected to head SEIU in 1981. Benova has been dogged by allegations of a lavish lifestyle, authoritarian rule and possible mob ties, but his resignation came as part of a civil suit settlement brought by dissidents Carlos Guzman and Dominick Bentivgna. [N.Y. Times, N.Y. Post 2/2/99]

Top SEIU boss Andrew L. Stern — who himself has corruption questions stemming from his role in the Teamsters money-laundering scandal — imposed an indefinite trusteeship over the local. On Feb. 8, SEIU opened Benova’s union-funded SoHo penthouse to the media. The palatially high-tech … Read More ➡