Janus, Two Years On: More Necessary Than Ever

This June 27 marked the second anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a pivotal event in labor relations whose potential long-run impact is only beginning to be felt. The High Court’s upholding by a 5-4 margin of the constitutional right of Mark Janus (in photo), an Illinois state civil servant, to withhold dues from an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has enabled numerous nonmembers across a wide range of public-sector jobs to decline to pay without worrying about losing their jobs. In response, unions and their political allies are going to great lengths to circumvent the ruling. They know what is at stake. Their actions unintentionally underscore why the Court made the right call. And Mark Janus isn’t quite done yet.  

Government employee unions, especially at the state and local levels, have become a dominant force … Read More ➡

Police Union Grip on Cities Must Be Broken

AFSCME President Lee Saunders

It’s called “the blue wall of silence,” that seemingly impenetrable code of honor among cops who cover for fellow officers suspected of breaking the law. For decades, this code has been scrutinized but rarely as much as right now in the wake of the videotaped death of a black suspect, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police. In addition to triggering demonstrations and riots, the incident, with less fanfare, has caused many people to call out the unions representing cops as being part of the problem. Critics argue that police unions often are more focused on shielding members from accountability than protecting the public or improving community relations. While riots and demands for the abolition of police forces are indefensible, there are legitimate concerns that police unions are doing more harm than good.     

There are currently about 700,000 law enforcement officers in this … Read More ➡

Supreme Court Considers Second Mark Janus Suit to Recover Dues

Mark Janus is seeking to complete his mission. And the U.S. Supreme Court soon will let him and other dissenting public-sector union members know where they stand. Two weeks from now, on June 18, the High Court will decide whether to grant legal standing to a petition by Janus, a former Illinois state employee, to recover dues payments dating back several years collected by an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Two years earlier the Court concluded that a government employee union cannot deduct partial dues (“agency fees”) from a nonmember paycheck without the affirmative consent of the employee. A grant of certiorari could open the door to similar nonmember actions, including a class action suit in Minnesota seeking a $19 million refund on behalf of about 8,000 employees.  

Until the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, state and … Read More ➡

AFSCME Local President in Wisconsin Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

On May 22, Linda Woodford, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 727D, pleaded guilty in Dunn County (Wisconsin) Circuit Court to one count of misdemeanor theft from the Menomonie-based union. She then was sentenced to five days in jail, one year of probation, and 50 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $453 in court costs. She previously had paid full restitution in the amount of $4,065. Woodford had been charged last June following an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

AFSCME Puts Corrupt Hawaii Local in Trusteeship; Removes State Director

Hawaii’s United Public Workers has entered a new era. And it isn’t the kind its leaders were counting on. On May 1, Lee Saunders, president of the union’s parent organization, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, placed the local under trusteeship. The previous day, AFSCME trial officers had removed UPW Hawaii State Director Dayton Nakanelua and Fiscal & Membership Services Administrator Jeanne Endo from their posts. Back in mid-February, an AFSCME audit had concluded that officials of the 13,000-member UPW had been spending large sums for unauthorized purposes. “It is my responsibility to ensure that our union is run with transparency and integrity at every level – and to take action when an emergency exists,” said Saunders.

The Honolulu-based United Public Workers, also known as AFSCME Local 646, as Union Corruption Update noted a couple of weeks ago, has a history of corruption. Back in … Read More ➡

AFSCME Audit of Hawaii Affiliate Reveals Suspicious Spending

The reputation of United Public Workers, never all that favorable, has taken another hit. This February, an internal audit prepared by the parent union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), concluded that officials of the 13,000-member Hawaii affiliate spent more than $300,000 (and possibly a good deal more) on unauthorized or suspect purposes over two and half years. The 25-page report, a copy of which was obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, stated: “There does not appear to be meaningful oversight on how funds are spent and accounted for, and…the opportunity for abuse of misuse of union funds exists as a result.” The audit did not accuse anyone of criminal wrongdoing. Union officials have vowed to meet AFSCME transparency standards.   

Hawaii has been the site of an unusual number of recent union corruption cases in federal court. Raymond Fujii, former head of a contractors’ … Read More ➡

AFSCME President in New Jersey Sentenced for $175K+ Ripoff

Shelby Hyman can console herself with the knowledge that her required restitution is on the low side. On February 10, Hyman, former president and treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1761, was sentenced in Middlesex County (New Jersey) Superior Court to four years in prison for stealing about $176,000 in funds from the New Brunswick union over a six-year period. She also was ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution on top of the $10,000 she paid last October – well short of $176,000. Hyman had pleaded guilty last August after being arrested and charged with fund misapplication in December 2018. AFSCME Local 1761 represents various employees of Rutgers University.

According to prosecutors, Hyman, now 52, a resident of Franklin Township (Somerset County), N.J., used her position as union president and treasurer during 2012-18 to divert union funds to personal uses. Eventually, one or more suspicious … Read More ➡

Massachusetts AFSCME Local President Charged with Theft

On February 26, Christian Leeds, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1370, was charged in the Springfield District Court of Massachusetts with one count of larceny in the sum of $13,444 from the Springfield-based union. The charge follows an investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. … Read More ➡

Ex-AFSCME Local President in Maryland Sentenced for Theft

On February 18, Sophia Love, former president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2751, was sentenced in the Circuit Court for the City of Baltimore to five years in prison, with credit for time served, for theft in the amount of $15,548 from the Baltimore union. She had pleaded guilty in June 2018 following her indictment in August 2017. The actions follow an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.  … Read More ➡

Indiana AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Pleads Guilty; Sentenced

On January 14, Eleanor Harvey, former secretary-treasurer of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3826, pleaded guilty in Marion County, Indiana Superior Court to one count of theft of union funds in an amount of between $750 and $50,000. She then was sentenced to a year of home confinement (suspended) and a year of probation, and was ordered to pay $18,800 in restitution and attend an anti-conversion class. Harvey had been charged last August following a joint investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.… Read More ➡