Federal Judge Guts DOL Joint Employer Rule; Unions Cheer

Should a company be liable to negotiate with a union alongside one of its contractors or franchisees even if it doesn’t set workplace rules? U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods of the Southern District of New York thinks it should. On September 8, Judge Woods struck down a key portion of a rule change finalized in January by the Department of Labor that narrowed the circumstances for assigning an employer ‘joint’ or ‘dual’ status and thus forcing it to collectively bargain. The DOL rule, he concluded, contravened the Fair Labor Standards Act, and was “arbitrary and capricious.” Attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia had filed suit in late February to enjoin enforcement. As a result of the decision, unions have a far wider basis for suing an employer for unfair labor practices.

Union Corruption Update has covered this deceptively crucial issue several times (see here and hereRead More ➡

Hawaii Crime Boss Busted for Racketeering, Murder; Infiltrated Teamster Local

Organized crime has been a dominant if often hidden reality in Hawaii for decades. But at least for now one of its most violent sociopaths is out of commission. On July 15, Michael Miske Jr., was arrested at his oceanfront home in Kailua, Oahu Island and charged in Honolulu federal court, along with 10 other men, with numerous criminal charges including murder, racketeering, kidnapping, arson, robbery and money-laundering. Significantly, his empire involved, if perhaps inadvertantly, a Teamsters local. Prosecutors termed Miske “the unquestioned leader of a racketeering enterprise” which “routinely committed violent crimes and assaults, and used threats and intimidation to protect (its) illegal activities.” He pleaded not guilty to all charges. A month later, on August 11, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield ordered Miske held without bail, terming him a flight risk and a threat to the community.

Welcome to the “other” Hawaii. Behind the beautiful beaches, lush … Read More ➡

Long Island Teamster Official Sentenced for Bribe-Taking

John Ulrich exacted a high price for his favors. Now he’s paying a high price. On July 22, Ulrich, ex-vice president and recording secretary of the Great Neck (Long Island), N.Y.-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 812, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 18 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release, for soliciting and receiving bribes from a union health plan administrator in return for retaining that person’s services. He also was ordered to forfeit $55,000 in personal assets and pay restitution in a sum to be determined later. Ulrich had pleaded guilty in December 2019 following his indictment that February. The actions follow a probe by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Teamsters Local 812 represents about 3,000 beverage industry workers in the New York City metropolitan area. Its … Read More ➡

Two Minnesota Workers Win $30K Settlement from Teamster-Represented Employer

Unions long have bitterly opposed the Right to Work principle. But some, in their desire to generate dues, may deceive workers into joining. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120 did – and so far hasn’t succeeded. On March 25, two Minnesota building materials employees announced a back pay settlement of more than $30,000 with a former employer for illegally firing them at the strong behest of Local 120. The workers, James Connolly and Charles Winter, had charged last spring that the company and the union falsely told them, several times, that union membership was a condition of employment. The case underscores organized labor’s reluctance to accept the Supreme Court’s Beck decision of over 30 years ago. A complaint filed by Connolly and Winter with the National Labor Relations Board remains active.

The saga began on April 9, 2019, when James Connolly, a recent hire at OMG Midwest’s Belle Plaine, Minnesota … Read More ➡

Teamsters Bookkeeper in Tennessee Sentenced for Records Fraud

On March 11, Judith Barker, former bookkeeper for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 519, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee to two years of probation, and ordered to pay $5,400 in restitution and a $25 special assessment, for concealing thefts in the records of the Knoxville-based union. Barker had pleaded guilty in November. The actions follow a probe by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. … Read More ➡

Teamster Probe Slaps Northern California Boss with New Charges

Rome Aloise seemingly behaved as though nothing happened the first time around. It may be a lot harder for him this time. On February 14, independent investigator Joseph E. diGenova issued a critical memorandum citing the San Francisco Bay Area Teamster leader’s “methodical and Machiavellian steps” to maintain power all but in name during a two-year suspension. The alleged steps included extortion and unauthorized participation in contract talks. The report sets the stage for a union Executive Board hearing and a review officer ruling. Aloise, an international vice president as well as a local and district boss, called the report “an insidious and incessant violation of my rights.” The diGenova memo came just three days before the union was freed from more than 30 years of federal control.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), with some 1.4 million members, in March 1989 became a ward of the U.S. government … Read More ➡

Top Ten Union Corruption Stories of the Year

Perhaps more than usual, corruption stories in 2019 involved the overlapping worlds of unions and politics. In Chicago, former Teamster boss John T. Coli Sr., whose ability to cut deals with City Hall and the Illinois legislature for years went virtually unchallenged, pleaded guilty in July to shaking down a television studio owner. One of his allies, State Senator Tom Cullerton, was hit with multiple embezzlement charges. In Boston, two city officials were convicted of putting the squeeze on a concert promoter on behalf of a Theatrical Employees local. In Philadelphia, an Electrical Workers business manager and seven other persons, including a city councilman, were indicted in January for embezzlement, wire fraud and bribery; a contractor and a fundraiser subsequently pleaded guilty.

The overlap of union and government interests was especially marked in the public sector. Unions, still smarting from the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in 2018, … Read More ➡

Long Island Teamster V.P. Pleads Guilty to Bribe-Taking

John Ulrich might have called it payola, but prosecutors called it bribery. And evidence indicates they were right. On December 12, Ulrich, former vice president of the Great Neck (Long Island), N.Y.-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 812 and a trustee of its health plan, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to soliciting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from an official with the plan’s third-party contractor in return for ensuring the union’s retention of the company. Ulrich had been indicted last February following a joint investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General, and Employee Benefits Security Administration. Sentencing is set for April 23.

Teamsters Local 812 represents more than 3,000 soft drink and brewery production, bottling, delivery and auxiliary workers in the New York City metropolitan area. It also has a health benefit plan lucrative enough to attract … Read More ➡

Illinois State Senator Tom Cullerton Charged in Teamster Ghost Job Scam

As the fortunes of Chicago-area former Teamster leader John T. Coli Sr. continue to crumble, an overlapping story has emerged. On August 2, Illinois Democratic State Senator Tom Cullerton was charged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois with 40 counts of embezzlement and one count of making a false statement following an indictment by a grand jury. For three years, Cullerton, while working as an organizer for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 734, allegedly received nearly $275,000 in salary and benefits from the Chicago union for doing “little or no work.” Teamsters Joint Council 25, then headed by Coli, had approved the job assignment back in 2013. On August 16, Cullerton pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The indictment of Tom Cullerton (in photo) is an outgrowth of charges against John Coli Sr., who for 25 years was the dominant Teamster official in the Chicago area. … Read More ➡

Ex-Chicago Teamster Boss Coli Pleads Guilty to Shakedowns, Tax Fraud

John T. Coli Sr. has a saying: “Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered.” He’s kind of feeling like a hog now. On July 30, Coli (in photo, on right), for years the most powerful Teamster in the Chicago area, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to one count each of receiving a prohibited payment and filing a false income tax return. The first charge refers to acts of extortion totaling $325,000 from an area employer in order to ensure “labor peace.” He had been slapped with a 13-count superseding indictment in September 2017 after being indicted on six counts that July. Coli resigned as head of Teamsters Local 727 on the day of the initial indictment, clearing the way for his son, John T. Coli Jr., to take over. The actions follow a probe by the FBI, the IRS, and the Labor Department’s Office … Read More ➡