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 ➡

Court Rejects Employer Challenge to ‘Ambush Election’ Rule, Rewards Unions

The Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, with its built-in pro-union majority, gave organized labor plenty of organizing and bargaining advantages, but none perhaps as far-reaching as the “quickie” or “ambush” election rule. Now an appeals court has upheld it. On April 19, a three-judge panel for the District of Columbia federal circuit court, in UPS Ground Freight Inc. v. NLRB, rejected an employer challenge to the rule, which, when put in place in April 2015, dramatically shortened the time available for employers to convey to employees their objections to potential union representation. Plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that the board’s directive to UPS to bargain with a Teamsters local lay outside the scope of its authority and that the rule “values speed at all costs.” And they were right.

Unions, like all organizations, seek to maximize membership. And that requires on some level persuading workers at nonunion sites to see the … Read More ➡

Ex-New York Teamster Official Charged with Taking Bribes from Benefit Administrator

John Ulrich may have seen the arrangement as a business deal, but federal prosecutors see it as a crime. On February 21, Ulrich, formerly vice president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 812, was indicted in Manhattan federal court with soliciting and receiving tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from an unnamed administrator for the health plan of the Great Neck (Long Island), N.Y.-based union in return for retaining that company as a client. Ulrich, who was a plan trustee as well as a union officer, had been arrested earlier that day. He pleaded not guilty, and was released on $100,000 bond. The indictment follows a joint probe by the FBI and the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, Office of Inspector General and Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Teamsters Local 812 represents about 3,000 soft drink and brewery workers in the New York City metropolitan area. John Ulrich, now … Read More ➡

Kentucky Teamsters Local President Indicted for Embezzlement, Fraud

On July 1, Jerry Thomas Vincent Jr., former president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 783, was indicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky on multiple counts of embezzlement, fraud and false record-keeping that enabled him to obtain more than $40,000 in purchases and loans from the Louisville union. Prosecutors allege Vincent, 53, a resident of Louisville, during October 5, 2009-June 17, 2011 embezzled $17,272.84 in funds through unauthorized credit card charges and $23,760 in illegal loans. They also accuse him of concealing these transactions in union financial records. An arraignment is scheduled for July 22. The indictment follows an investigation by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards.… Read More ➡

New York City Snow Removal Response Investigated as SEIU-Teamster Slowdown, Payback

NYC snowstormNew York City residents finally are digging out of a devastating post-Christmas blizzard, aided by unexpectedly warmer weather. But a growing number are sounding as if they want to use their shovels against union snowplow workers and their supervisors. Various news outlets have reported that leaders of the Service Employees-affiliated Sanitation Officers Association ordered their Teamsters-affiliated work crews to slack off as a protest against recent City Department of Sanitation budget cuts and demotions. The apparent work slowdown not only paralyzed traffic, but also led to two deaths and any number of commuters trapped overnight in subway cars. On the hot seat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has demanded, and is getting, a full investigation. Union leaders deny culpability, insisting fiscal austerity had reduced manpower. But evidence appears to undercut such claims.

That a king-sized blizzard slammed New York during December 26-27 is something nobody debates. It was the sixth-most powerful in … Read More ➡