A half-decade ago, the Obama administration, in apparent defiance of federal statutes, issued a rule authorizing states to deduct union dues from home care providers whose income is partly or fully Medicaid-derived. The experiment now has ended. Yesterday, May 2, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule to protect non-joining independent providers from having a portion of their paychecks deducted and routed to a union. Public-sector unions have generated an estimated $200 million a year this way. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, calls the reversal “an encouraging action toward stopping union bosses from unlawfully using public payment systems to intercept tax dollars intended for providers caring for those in need.” The rule is set to take effect on or about July 5.
On March 15, Charlotte McDaniel, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3826, was indicted in Marion County, Indiana Superior Court on three counts of theft from the Indianapolis union in a sum of between $750 and $50,000. The union represents Indianapolis public school bus drivers. The indictment follows a probe by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. Ms. McDaniel, it should be noted, has a “history.” Back in August 2015, she pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery for hitting an unruly 14-year-old female student with a broom handle while on her afternoon bus route about a year and a half earlier. One wonders if she has a future.… Read More ➡ “AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer in Indianapolis Indicted for Theft”
Mervin Hawk was an unlucky gambler. That’s why his time behind bars is a sure thing. On March 7, Hawk, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1640, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to 30 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling more than $330,000 in funds from the Detroit union over a more than two-year period. Hawk had pleaded guilty last November after being charged in a one-count information last April with stealing over $600,000. He also was ordered to make restitution in the amount of $362,623. The actions follow a joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General.
Susan Kyle paid herself on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, union members were involuntarily subsidizing her. On February 4, Kyle, former treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2428, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to two years in prison, plus three years of supervised release, for embezzling nearly $500,000 in funds over a six-year period from the Oakland-based union, which represents employees of East Bay Regional Parks. She had pleaded guilty last October to embezzlement and concealment; as part of the plea agreement, she will pay full restitution. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
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.
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 ➡ “Los Angeles Teacher Sues Union, School District Over Forced Representation”
Susan Kyle proved extraordinarily clever. But in the end, she was not clever enough. On October 29, Kyle, former treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2428, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to embezzling $490,338 in funds from the Oakland-based union, which represents employees of East Bay Regional Parks. She also pleaded guilty to concealing her thefts in union financial records. As part of her plea, she agreed to pay full restitution. Kyle had been charged on October 5. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.
For certain members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 858, out-of-town union events provided an opportunity for good side money. The issue is whether they attended those events or whether the events themselves even happened. On August 20, the City of Pasadena placed three municipal workers on leave in light of evidence that they received “highly questionable” payments from the union totaling nearly $65,000. The trio, plus two former City employees, are the focus of a separate ongoing AFSCME probe. Nobody has been arrested or charged. Indeed, police so far have not been called in to investigate. But union investigators believe that there is a real possibility of criminal activity. AFSCME Administrator Jeff Bigelow terms the expenses “unusual, inappropriate and possibly unlawful.”
The Supreme Court’s Janus decision four months ago, which overturned the authority of public-sector unions to force nonmember employees under contract to pay dues or risk losing their jobs, has taken some unexpected turns. Indeed, barely after the ruling, a Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit group, the Buckeye Institute, filed separate suits on behalf of a high school teacher in Ohio and a college professor in Minnesota challenging the authority of their respective unions to bargain exclusively. In effect, the plaintiffs seek to be freed from representation they never requested in the first place. “These capable public servants have the right to speak for themselves and should be released from forced association with unions and advocacy with which they disagree,” said Institute President Robert Alt. The unions have a different view.
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME was a stunning blow to over 40 years of public-sector union monopoly power. Union leaders for their part are pushing back. They have plenty of allies in state governments, and perhaps no state is as vociferous as New York. Indeed, on June 27, the day of the ruling, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to protect union members from outside intimidation – ironic, given the pressure unions often use to collect dues. The State of New York also has begun deducting dues from the pay of government workers without even checking to see if they are members. And now a prominent lawmaker wants taxpayers to reimburse unions for foregone dues.