Ickes Ready, Willing & Able

Harold M. Ickes, former Clinton deputy chief of staff and long-time alleged union/mob lawyer, who is thought by many to be at the center of the Clinton-Gore campaign fundraising scandals, recently started his own lobbying firm by opening the Washington office of his former NY law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein. He is now reaping as much as $20,000 a month per client which includes the American Federation of Teachers, Service Employees’ International Union along with SEIU’s powerful affiliate, NY Local 1199 of the hospital workers’ union. Ickes has access into the AFL-CIO and helped with the campaign to defeat California’s Proposition 226. Now, he is trying to convince AFL-CIO boss John J. Sweeney into letting him represent the AFL-CIO. ”I expect we’ll cut a deal soon,” said Ickes. Yet controversies dog Ickes. On top of numerous Clinton-Gore fundraising probes, he has been implicated in the Teamsters mess. “As … Read More ➡

Sweeney’s Internal Squabble Grows

Since elected president in 1995, Sweeney relentlessly talked about the AFL-CIO’s need for signing up new members. But critics inside the AFL-CIO are now saying it’s just talk. “Sweeney’s bid to revitalize labor has been dealt a setback — and he himself has delivered the blow,” according to Business Week . On Jun. 8, Sweeney, “abruptly fired AFL-CIO Organizing Director Richard Bensinger, the brains behind labor’s recruitment strategies and its charismatic proselytizer.” Irate Bensinger supporters blamed Sweeney’s aides: Chief of Staff Robert W. Welsh and Public Affairs Director Denise Mitchell “who saw criticisms by organizers as a threat to their programs.”

“The dismissal has kicked up a firestorm of protest, and some union leaders now fear that Bensinger’s removal will set back their battles to refocus their own unions on recruitment. ‘A lot of what I’ve done I’ve taken from Bensinger,’ says Robert E. Wages, president of the Oil, Chemical … Read More ➡

Power Company Sues Union

A 2-year fight between Public Service Company of OK and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1002 is headed to court. PSO filed a complaint on Jun. 30, in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, stating that IBEW has not kept its end of a collective bargaining agreement. The suit claims IBEW, through a union manual called “The Inside Game,” has been encouraging union workers to decrease productivity, flooding employer phone lines and avoiding work when on call. PSO officials said union workers’ use of strategies contained in “The Inside Game” is a breach of the current agreement and “has caused PSO to incur substantial monetary damages.” [Tulsa World 07/01/98]

SEIU Gravediggers on Strike
Gravediggers & groundskeepers of Service Employees International Union Local 74 & 365 in NY have been in involved in a violent strike since Apr. The estimated 340 strikers walk picket lines demanding increased benefits and 18 … Read More ➡

SEIU Sues Cleveland

From a Crain’s Cleveland Business editorial [07/06/98]: “It’s hard to fathom why, after all the months of legal wrangling over the Cleveland mayor taking control of the city’s public schools, why the local NAACP chapter and a union would again file suit to block the move. Last week, lawyers for the NAACP and for the Service Employees International Union filed suit in federal court seeking to delay a law that allows Mayor White to appoint a 9-member school board and a chief executive to run the long-troubled school system. Their logic, apparently, is that since U.S. District Judge George White’s Mar. 6 ruling that such a move is constitutional is being appealed, then the takeover by the mayor should be delayed during the appeals process. I hope the judge denies the request. There has been more than enough foot dragging on this issue, and much of it seems to come … Read More ➡

UFCW Locals Lack Democracy

In a disturbing display of old-guard tactics, 2 United Food & Commercial Workers locals “elected” their leadership in unopposed elections. According to their media release, on Jul. 1, UFCW Local 1776 in Central Pennsylvania “reelected” President Wendell W. Young for the 17th consecutive time. He and his slate had no opposition and were elected by acclamation. In West Berlin, NJ, a slate of officers including UFCW Local 1360 President Clay Brown were also reelected by acclamation on Jul. 2. Their media release proudly reported: “In stark contrast to a bitterly [yet democratically] contended election three years ago,… no nominations except for the current leadership team were received.”

UPS, The Sequel?
On Jul. 9, Teamsters bosses from 39 locals representing 3,650 members announced that they had unanimously authorized a nationwide strike that would attempt to shut down 43 of Overnite Transportation Company’s 166 depots. Teamsters have been attempting to organize Overnite’s … Read More ➡

Election Monitor Tries to Blackmail Congress

Michael G. Cherkasky, the court-appointed Teamsters election monitor sent a strongly-worded letter to U.S. District Judge David N. Edelstein on Jun. 24 threatening to end all federal supervision of the election unless the court can resolve a standoff over election funding. Cherkasky’s threats come on the heals of a major setback for taxpayers in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit refused to reconsider its Mar. 30 ruling that forces taxpayers to fund the upcoming rerun election.

Congress, led by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), passed legislation barring taxpayer funding of the rerun election because the nearly $20 million 1996 election was a disgrace and Congress is unconvinced that adequate safeguards are in place to prevent another corrupted election. The Justice Department, under Congressional pressure, has argued that the Teamsters should pay for the election. Cherkasky’s costs for the rerun is now estimated at $8.6 million which is … Read More ➡

Cherkasky’s Other Job Going Well

Cherkasky doesn’t only work for the government monitoring the Teamsters. He has remained the President & Chief Operating Officer of Kroll Associates which is part of the Kroll-O’Gara Company (NASDAQ: KROG), a worldwide private investigator & security firm based in N.Y. On Jun. 18, Cherkasky spent the day in Toronto closing a $16 million deal on Kroll’s latest acquisition of a Canadian forensic accounting firm. “It’s hard to beat them so we had to buy them… We can expand very rapidly across the world,” Cherkasky boasted to the Toronto media. The merger builds Kroll’s presence to 40 cities in 16 counties. Apparently, Cherkasky doesn’t have his hands full because he said he is looking to further expand his Moscow office’s work against burgeoning crime syndicates in Russia. [Toronto Star 06/18/98]
 
UP SHOT: How does Cherkasky have time to run his multi-million dollar business and still ensure the upcoming Teamsters … Read More ➡

The GM Strikes: An Eye-Opening Perspective

From Investor’s Business Daily’s editorial [06/22/98]: “It takes a lot of effort to put on a strike. Bodies are needed for the picket lines from dawn ’til after dusk. Somebody has to work the telephones. And the media message must be honed. That’s almost as much coordinated work as it takes to build cars. So we want to know: Why don’t members of the United Auto Workers direct their energy to making a superior product, instead of striking General Motors. There are many reasons, but one big one is that the union bosses wouldn’t like it. Workers would learn that they don’t need the union. They could earn high wages by simply turning out a car that buyers prefer…

The Flint stamping facility is at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to productivity. It has about half the output per hour worked of similar GM facilities. And the … Read More ➡

Violence Ravages Puerto Rico

Protesters planted bombs, smashed bank machines and severed and burned phone cables on Jun. 25, reacting with fury to the privatization of Puerto Rico’s phone company. One bomb exploded in a policeman’s hands. The bomb, concealed in a flashlight, was planted at a branch of Banco Popular, part of a consortium buying the Puerto Rico Telephone Co. It tore a finger off the officer’s right hand and wounded his left hand and leg.

Two large unions began a financial offensive against Banco Popular. The General Workers’ Council withdrew $40 million from accounts on Jun. 25, and the Teachers Association of Puerto Rico said it transferred $100 million out of the bank. The rash of sabotage started shortly after Gov. Pedro Rossello signed a law on Jun. 24 completing the $1.9 billion sale of the phone company, known as Telefonica, to a consortium led by GTE Corp.
 
Being told by … Read More ➡

Connecticut Union Bosses Settle Case

State AFL-CIO President John Olsen and 13 other fund trustees agreed on Jun. 10 to pay more than $2 million in restitution and another $416,000 in civil penalties. The Labor Department sued Olsen and other trustees of the CT Plumbers & Pipefitters pension fund over investments the department said were risky and led to losses of $2-3 million.

Olsen will be able to continue serving as a financial guardian of union pension funds under the terms of a settlement. The money will be paid by an insurance policy, not the trustees themselves.
 
In the original lawsuit, the department had asked that Olsen and the other trustees be permanently barred from serving as financial guardians to employee benefit plans. The settlement includes no such prohibition, although it does require the trustees to carefully evaluate potential risks. [Hartford Courant 06/11/98]

Longshoreman Pleads Guilty
A union dockworker pleaded guilty Jun. 12 for … Read More ➡